Category Archives: Notes from the Apex

The longer we live, the more we realize our entire lives are like hiking through a series of peaks and valleys. Going downhill is easier. Getting to our peaks requires more energy. But once we reach the apex we can relax, catch our breath and take in the view.

Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Forgiveness + Love = Freedom

Mitch Teemley nails it again. Ghlőir do Dhia!

Mitch Teemley

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Even the Romans feared them.For centuries they avoided the Irish Celts, whom Julius Caesar had called “more savage than any other race.” When the newly Christianized Roman monks finally arrived in the 5th century, they looked down on the these barbarians. And in turn, these barbarians looked down on them, while continuing to live in fear of their own vengeful gods.

Then a Roman-British boy of 16 was capturedand came to live among them. During his six years as a slave, he learned their language and their character. In slavery he found freedom, finally turning his heart toward God.

Patrick escaped, but then wandered restlessly. In his Confession he writes of a vision in which “the Voice of the Irish” cried out to him, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, come (back) and walk among us.”

After his ordination, the young bishop returned to “walk among”…

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Housebound

Being still and quiet is not my strong suit – never has been. I’m a do-er. Unable to use my arms, this healing season has been my greatest challenge to date, often plunging me into bouts of apathy followed by arbitrary sadness.

The rain and wind have arrived. The lots muddy, pastures soggy, the cottage floors took the worst of it while using a broom or mop is so difficult. Initially I engaged all my creativity cleaning up the mess, but gradually succumbed to going outdoors only when necessary.

Soon I felt the walls beginning to close in on me and my moods swung dark.

Despite physical therapy I see my muscles beginning to shrivel; bicep, triceps, flexor and brachia rubber bands. This concerns me. I don’t spring back as fast as I used to. Still, I flex till it hurts and then stop.

Today the dark dams looming in every corner of the cottage seemed to brake open. I could no longer simply sit. I sat on a piece of non-slip drawer liner, arms folded across my middle. Pressing my feet against the sofa I pushed it. Stuttering, and groaning it moved!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

We must re-stain the concrete anyway, so I’ll live with the scrape marks until the weather is more cooperative.

Repeating this with the love seat and recliner I cleared a circular path through the three rooms.

Then I did the math:

One circle through the rooms is 40-42 steps. Times 13 trips every hour 8 times a day, I not only see little things I actually can clean but I’m also burning calories while pumping the creative juices. Since I work an average of 8 to 10 hours a day – that’s about two miles of steps. Sure, I feel like I’m growing hamster hair, but spring’s coming.

I reset the alarms on my laptop and dutifully respond every hour. Shoes laced and dressed in layers I can peel off and put back on, every hour I stayed on task, returning to work with my brain freshly revived.

This is better. Now I’m brain storming how I can buff out the scrape marks standing on buffing pads from the paint shop… I’ll dance. Mashed Potato everyone!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:18 (NLT)

 

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Stuffed

Late winter is my favorite season for baking. It warms the cottage while filling it with delightful aromas.

It was the last week of the month. With frozen, wet roads I had left the ranch only when necessary, so supplies dwindled. This is typical. I have seen hard times, so any day there is food is good and having choices is great! I take advantage of bargains and stock the freezer and pantry. Still, there was remarkable room in both.

That particular day I had to be especially creative. I was delighted to find all the makings for a pumpkin cheesecake pie – of all things! Hey, it includes all four food groups.

I gathered the ingredients and began making the crust. But when I went to roll out the dough I couldn’t find my rolling pin.

After exhausting every possibility I looked about for anything suitable for the task. Rolling the dough with a tall juice bottle, I mentally rummaged through lists of things I’d inadvertently left in Texas or Colorado last year.

I put the pie into the oven and began cleaning up. As I put things away I began to laugh. Without some extensive reorganizing I actually have no place for anything else. This cottage is stuffed full!

I know any time I need a rolling pin or baking sheets, I can walk 20 yards and borrow Kendra’s, but the situation made me deeply reflective.

Over my history I experienced some devastating losses. Yet, hard times taught three generations of my family to be resilient, flexible, inventive and most of all thankful for what we have.

It’s not my preference, but if I must I can fish and hunt. I know how to clean fish and dress out a deer, rabbit or fowl. More important, I adore growing vegetables and canning them.

Over the years, I learned to use a pair of forks or knives as a pastry cutter. A tall glass makes an adequate rolling pin as well as a cookie cutter. Since I needn’t make it anymore, a quart of yogurt provides me calcium and protein and a storage container as well. With friends I learned how to make cheese and delightful breads. Long ago, Moms passed their talents for making biscuits, tortillas and pancakes from scratch on to me. And hanging out with Kendra I recently learned to make candy.

Though some of my history is grievous indeed I’m glad for it all today. Because of hardships and heartbreaks, God and I are sufficient in all things. I am blessed indeed!

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” Philippians 4:11, 12 (The Voice)

 

*Image courtesy of ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello

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Note to Self: Relax

Kendra recently mentioned she makes ToDo lists. We laughed remembering a meme that declares keeping lists signifies the beginning of the end – essentially of youth. During the conversation I shared my journey from Daytimers, ToDo lists (itemized, color-coded and annotated), alarms in my phones to Post-It notes to myself.

I revisited that conversation today.

While inadvertently avoiding a particularly unpleasant section of my work this morning, I found myself rummaging through old memories. I confess, I became angry. It’s what I want to evoke in readers, but I felt like I was losing too much time over the passage.

Soon I realized I’d been dusting the bike tires. Clearly I’d derailed.

About then it occurred to me, I determine my deadlines. I can do this.

As Hope frequently reminds me, I’m remarkably human. Being human makes each of us unique and we all move at our individual paces – usually forward. Trying to be perfect for the first half of my life, this came as a shock to me. Sure, I often appear to be taking longer growing up than the next person. But now that I’ve given up trying to be like anyone else I deliberately celebrate the liberty to take life as it happens.

For instance, prioritizing tasks is not so unforgiving anymore. On the surface leaving dishes until morning may seem gross. Seriously, I can live with that being my darkest housekeeping secret. And dressing. I practically live in flannels (or jeans) and hoodies. As you gasp with shock also consider that all the amazing information constantly churning around in my head can be exhausting, so I sleep when I’m tired. And I wake when I’m rested. Another perk to being me.

So, to enjoy life more and miss less I use ’em all: I set phone alarms, mark calendars, make lists and write notes to myself; white boards, black boards, and Post-Its everywhere. What’s more, I eventually notice them.

Today, in tribute to Kendra, while I return to my work, I’m sharing some of my Notes to Self from my first months here at home. Alarms not required:

  • Computer reminders while I work:
    • Drink water. (repeats every 2 hours for 8 hours)
    • Use bathroom (also repeats every 2 hours)
    • Stand and move (repeats every 90-minutes after water is consumed)
  • Notes around the cottage:

  

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” Psalm 90:12 (NLT)

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Soar, Bert!

In Loving Memory

Arlene Powers

December 8, 1954 – February 28, 2017

fledgling a-shuhani

Long ago and far away
In the driest desert
Broken and abandoned
Wearing pain and regret
A clown touched my heart
And gave me a golden rose.

Hands always busy
Making treasure from rubble
Spinning joy from sorrow
Loving great and small
Footed and winged,
Such virtue lights the world.

E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2015 Rapture Practice! Publications All rights reserved

“Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last, but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others.”

Proverbs 31:30

Scripture taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Gravity

Is it just me? Or does anyone else remember falling as a child?

I tripped and fell down a lot. Okay, we can make that present tense and still be accurate. But I remember as a child how immediately after the bonk-boink-thud I’d first look around to see if anyone saw me. Even then I hoped to rewrite the story.

How times have changed.  Now we look around for witnesses in case we are hurt and want to go to court.

falling-pixabay

Over my first few months here I stumbled and tripped around the property and fell a few times. I adapted remarkably fast so life is less painful and with the full use of all my limbs projects flow much more smoothly.

At this juncture of my life I don’t mind falling; I mind the landings very much. Gravity, no woman’s good friend, is a necessary evil. Has anyone else tried indoor sky diving? Yeah! Falling can be great. Aside from that, in my experience landings generally tend to initiate a surprisingly costly, painful and lengthy healing process.

I like dancing in the breeze, with or without my four-legged companions, my arms up, breathing in the fresh air. That is until my boot slips and my torso shoots in a different direction than my legs. Again with the landing.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”*

During the cold season I feel every hit my body ever took – and I thank God I continue to enjoy mobility. Still, I expect my love-hate relationship with gravity shall continue – indefinitely.

20170228_123156Some of my landings since childhood have taken their toll on me. And yet, I dance in the pastures, arms out, breathing in the fresh air, Girlfriend trotting along just in case a tasty morsel awaits her in my pocket. I delight in walking with Ol’ Scout loping around me, his tongue happily flapping in the breeze. These are the moments for which I’ve lived as long as I can remember.

Today I perceive the world differently than I did as a child. I still fall, but I fear other things more than gravity; (forgetting an important appointment), hatred, disease, poverty. I still don’t like falling much, a-n-n-d I dread landings more than ever. Even so I dance, jog and sometimes run. Okay, I sprint and I walk after dusk. I am more convinced than ever before the end result is the same.

In my case that would be heaven. Thank you, Jesus!

“For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (The Voice)

* Philippians 3:12 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

 

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East Wind – Walk #10

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“Winds from the east. Mist comin’ in.
Like somthin’ was brewin’; about to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store.
But I feel what’s to ‘appen, all ‘appened before!”
– Bert, from Mary Poppins, by P. L. Travers

Cocony joined Captain, Scout and me for our noontime walk today. We breathed deeply, taking in signs of new life springing from last year’s thawing remains; the fresh, 42 degree air feeling like 62 degrees after such extreme cold for so long here. Still mostly gray and brown in the pastures, we all felt exhilarated there too!

Enjoy glimpses of our piece of the world today:

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 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)

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Squeak

20161016_125642Before the move to Texas, Squeak had been my sister Roan’s pet. Preferring to avoid the more dominant cats of our lot, he now inhabits the neighbor’s yards and pastures south of my bedroom window.

Not seeing him for weeks at a time concerned me during this hard season, but occasional sightings remind me how my family thrives here.

This afternoon I noticed him basking in the sun, staring dispassionately at me as I opened my bedroom window – for the first time since the onset of winter. His blinking pale green eyes said it all,

“Can’t you see it’s still cold out here? Roo, you’ve gone nuts.”

Inarguable, but nuts are brain food. I did the math: it was 47 degrees outside with marvelous, warm sunshine. Inside the cold radiating from the concrete floor made for 52 degree rooms.  Yeah, it feels cold now, but wait, July’s coming. Though comfortable while I move about, as I sat working the cold quickly gripped me, pushing me outside into the sunshine every hour or so. As much as I enjoy the short walks, the frequent interruptions quickly wore at me.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.”*

The many distractions from deadlines I’d hoped to meet today felt too heavy. A little while after noontime I boldly opened the bedroom window and then stood still, holding my hands open before it, checking for slightly warmer air outside.

Excited, (with only a slight shiver) I also opened the western window in the living area. Again, warmer air wafted in.

Surging with new energy from this tangible promise of long-anticipated spring, I set a timer to remind me to check the windows again in an hour, and happily returned to my desk. Rejuvenated with warmer, fresh air now pushing the candle wax and wood stove smells from the rooms, I keyed madly away until the alarm sounded. The incoming air already cooler, I reluctantly closed the windows with a shudder.

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Knowing spring is coming soon, and breathing in the warmer, fresh air are profoundly different.
 
Granted, within minutes the outside air was again too cool. But I’d placed a milestone in this crazy winter.
 
 
Inside is 54 degrees already. We made it, Squeak!
 
 

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

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Sprouting – Walk #9

“The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.” Song of Songs 2: 12 (NLT)

 

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