The Solar Eclipse got me thinking …
I was lucky enough to round up some solar eclipse viewing glasses just as the big event was taking place, thanks to a colleague with an extra pair (thanks Mark). I gazed in awe for a full thirty minutes as the moon’s shadow swept across the Midwest obliterating 96% of the sun in central Illinois. When the light dimmed and the shadows disappeared, the buzz of the cicadas reached its crescendo. The mosquitoes must have come out too because I discovered a bite on my leg.
As I marveled at the spectacle of my first solar eclipse, I tried to recall if I’ve ever witnessed this natural phenomenon before. That led me to wonder if I’ll ever see another one in my lifetime, which made me realize how fleeting life really is for us insignificant humans in this massive galaxy of ours. Continue reading
Roller Coaster Reflections on Mother’s Day
“Hey, let’s go to Six Flags today,” my mother suggested one Saturday morning in early June of 1980 as she hovered over the shabby sofa on which I sprawled. “We shouldn’t waste such a gorgeous day, and you don’t have to work, right?”
“Huh?” I peered up from the juicy novel I’d planned to devour first over summer break.
“Come on, it’ll be fun!” In one swift move, Mom confiscated the paperback and hoisted me from my cozy nest. “You can read in the car on the way there and back, okay?”
“What about the twins?” I asked about my sisters. “They’ll be ticked to be left out.”
“Yeah, right, aren’t you funny! And besides, they’re working today. This is our special treat … on me.”
My older siblings had entered the “it’s-not-cool-to-hang-with-Mom” stage of adolescence. At fourteen, I was headed in that direction too, testing my independence with my first job at McDonald’s and spreading my wings with activities away from home. The mood-swing-inducing hormones that would distance me from my mother for the better part of the next decade were already running through my veins. Continue reading
A powerful love song pays tribute to family and tackles Alzheimer’s disease
Sharing the album x by Ed Sheeran from her music library, my daughter recently reminded me of the incredible power of music. My husband and I were driving her back to begin her sophomore year of college, and she selected the soundtrack for our road trip.
My daughter has excellent taste in music, and like me she is really into it. Music in our family is not a luxury, but instead a basic necessity like indoor plumbing or electricity . . . or chocolate. I’m a fan of Ed Sheeran too, who isn’t? He’s talented, introspective and sensitive and all that, like another British musician who also makes the female population go weak in the knees. So I was content to hum and tap along to his tunes as the miles and cornfields rolled by.
When the song “Afire Love” started up my daughter announced, “This song is so sad, Mom. It’s about Alzheimer’s disease. Just listen to the lyrics.”
Book Amnesia: From the Mouth of Babe
My teenage daughter offers a goldmine of ideas with her casual comments. The trick is to filter the precious metal from the sand and gravel, panning to find the very best material. Like me, she loves to read and has amassed a huge collection of books that she proudly displays in her room on a bookshelf like sports trophies. She’s even gone so far as to color code the books on each shelf, so she knows if anything is borrowed or out of place! Recently my bookworm of a child gave me this nugget to consider:
I wish I had amnesia so that I could read all my favorite books again for the very first time.
Rauner Versus Blunt
Funny how two Midwestern politicians can have completely different opinions on the exact same subject of Alzheimer’s disease funding.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri just announced he will make Alzheimer’s disease funding a priority on his agenda. Meanwhile, Governor Bruce Rauner of Illinois has now proposed cutting $3.3 million in annual funding to the three primary Alzheimer’s centers in the state, leaving them with ZERO funding for the first time ever. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.
Both politicians are republicans whose constituents are separated only by the Mississippi River. One feels increased funding is absolutely necessary based on the predicted Alzheimer’s epidemic as baby boomers age over the next twenty years. The other sees Alzheimer’s disease assistance and research as an “extra” that can be eliminated.
I’ve always held up Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as the gold standard, but no longer after seeing the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service this weekend.
I knew the movie contained violence, and for the most part I enjoyed the movie anyway because Firth’s character Harry Hart’s actions were for the greater good. But that changed with the massacre in the church, which went too far in my opinion. His murderous rampage in that scene was difficult to watch. I closed my eyes towards the end because I just couldn’t stomach it. A quote from Pride and Prejudice immediately sprang to mind:
Valentine’s Day Blues
The icy grip of winter chokes the prospect of spring. Even Valentine’s Day can’t convince me to like the month of February.
I came across this enlightening quote on parenthood from actor Peter Krause:
Isn’t that the truth? After struggling to raise your own children, it’s so much easier to understand what a hard job parenting is and how easy it is to make mistakes as a parent. This hindsight makes forgiving our own parents a much simpler task! Just food for thought on a gray Sunday afternoon. Do you agree with this quote on parenthood?
I’ll admit it, I hate winter and snow . . detest . . . loathe . . . despise . . . abhor. Get the picture? And snow before December really gets to me. It’s not fair, it’s too early, I’m not ready. The gorgeous autumn leaves aren’t even gone yet!
And then here it comes . . . . snow . . . falling already in November—dusting the grass, and the cars, and the multi-colored leaves I’m still admiring. The mere sight of winter snow makes me colder, and I’m always cold anyway!
I sat watching the winter snow gently falling from the windows of my sunroom this afternoon with my hooded sweatshirt zipped up to my chin, a hot cup of tea warming my hands. I tried to be angry, but I have to admit the snow looked beautiful, peaceful, quiet, serene. A thin layer of white stuff covered the ground without accumulating too much. Nice big flakes gently floated from the sky without hurry.
Yes, I’ll change my mind. But for now, in this moment, I will marvel at the beauty of the snow and the miracle of the changing seasons.
Sweeping generalizations are discouraged for writers, yet some of the greatest authors have used broad statements to their advantage. Take the quote about family relationships in the opening line to Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina:
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)