Find the Good

Ms. CrankyPants

There are many things that are currently making me cranky.  Most of them are not really suitable for a blog post.  (For one reason or another.)  And some of them are already making most of you cranky, too.  (So . . . why go there.)

But this one?


Oh, yes.  MAJOR culprit in the cranky department.

I don't blog about this, but I have rheumatoid arthritis.  Have had for . . . nearly 30 years now.  While it causes some problems for me now and again, it's mainly under control.  Which means it rarely stops me from doing what I want to be doing.  (Better living through chemistry.  And all that.)


Every once in a while, some joint will flare up in a major way.  Usually, it's my knee.  Occasionally, it's my jaw.  And, most annoyingly, sometimes it's my wrist.

And you know what that means, don't you?  Yeah.  No knitting.  No stitching.  No working out.  No walking the dogs.  Minimal gardening.  Typing with one hand.  And lots of grumbling. . . 

But I can still lift my cup of coffee.  
And hold a book.  
And sit in the car while Tom drives me up to Grand Rapids for Art Prize later today.  

So life is very good, really.

(I'm just wearing my CrankyPants.)


PS - JoJo is feeling cranky today, too.  She has an ear infection, but is on the mend.  (We're partners-in-crank.)



Keeping Things Zen

I'm trying to keep my cool this week.  To stay focused.  Practice mindfulness.  Keep it . . . Zen.


The downside to spending so much time up north is, of course, catching up with All The Things when you're at home again.  
So this week is full of appointments and meetings.  
While prepping for a big party on Friday.  
An outdoor party in the garden.
With rain in the forecast. 
Which means activating Plan B prep.  Just in case.

Zen.  I need to keep it Zen.

Because everything will work out.
And life is good.


Flowers are Magical

Last night, a gardening pal and I joined a group of our fellow Master Gardeners for a couple of "garden walks."  These walks are usually fairly close to town -- but last night we drove far out into the country.  Dirt roads, barns, corn fields stretching on for acres, and even a big Christmas tree farm.  We were so far out in the country that Siri wouldn't have been able to help us if we had gotten lost!  (Luckily, we didn't.)

We almost didn't go.  I've got a wedding in (gulp) 9 days.  My friend - who just returned from a week's vacation up north - is flying out to the west coast for another this morning.  Really.  Neither of us had time for this.

But we went.  And I'm so glad we did!


Both gardens we visited . . . were dahlia farms (one for business; one for sheer love of dahlias).

Dahlias are just gorgeous flowers.  Stunning, in fact -- and especially so when you see big fields of them, all different types and colors and sizes!  They are truly the stars of late summer and fall gardens -- blooming and putting on quite a show when pretty much everything else is winding down.  



Dahlias are also a lot of work -- and especially at a tough time of year to be out in the garden!  Because dahlias grow from tubers, and those tubers need to be dug up each fall (but not until AFTER the first hard frost) and lovingly stored in a cold (but not freezing), dry location where they overwinter until the threat of frost is passed each spring.  I can't even begin to imagine the work these gardeners do -- to dig up and overwinter and re-plant thousands of dahlia tubers each year.

But, oh my!  What a payoff!


In addition to their obvious charms, dahlias hold a very special place in my heart.

My mom loved dahlias.  

She always grew them in her own garden, and was constantly trying various methods of overwintering her tubers.  (Her condo did not quite have a cold enough storage space, so often her tubers got moldy over the winter.)  When I was going through my mom's files last fall, I came across a huge file folder stuffed with articles and information she had printed out from the Internet -- all about overwintering dahlias.  (Hope springs eternal when you're a gardener. . .)  I always gave my mom at least one dahlia plant for Mother's Day.  We marveled at their beauty every year when they bloomed -- and especially when they made it through to bloom the next season.


I've been thinking about my mom a lot these last few weeks.  

It was a year ago now that my mom's health was in rapid decline.  It was a very hard time for me.  I was struggling with decisions, shock, feelings of helplessness, the burdens of responsibility.  But most of all, I was struggling with overwhelming sadness.

Those feelings are all re-surfacing now, a year later.  Missing my mom . . . and replaying all the not-so-pleasant parts there toward the end.


But being surrounded by dahlias last night turned out to be a surprising gift.

It was like I flipped a switch in my head.  

Instead of remembering all the hard stuff of a year ago, I started remembering all the happy times of gardening with my mom instead.  

How much she loved dahlias.  

How delighted she would have been to see so many dahlias -- all in one place. 

How each dahlia . . . was kind of like my mom . . . smiling right at me.

I'm in a much better place now.


Flowers are magical.


Find the Good

"Find the good.  It's all around you.  Find it, showcase it, and you'll start believing in it."
                                                           ---  Jesse Owens

Okay.  So I've established that last year . . . was a pretty crappy year for me.  I've whined about it, I've complained about it, I've shed more than a few tears about it.  (Because it WAS crappy.)


There was also so much good in it.

I've decided . . . that's the trick to moving forward.

Find the good.

I mean, just look at this photo of my sister and I on Thanksgiving.  


It was the week of my mom's memorial service.  We were terribly stressed out by a number of issues - both personal and political.  Sad.  Emotional.  Tired.  But we were together.  Enjoying each other.  Laughing, even.

It was good!

That photo of my sister and I is going to serve as a reminder for me this year . . . to find the good.  Because, yep.  There are going to be crappy days.  (That's how life works, y'know?)  But there will be something good even in those crappy days.

Pollyanna-ish?  Maybe a little.  But I think it's also a mindset; a way to move forward.  

This weekend, I decided to reflect back on that crappy year that was 2016.  I went through my journals, my planner, my blog . . . just to remind myself of everything that happened.

I made a list.  I found the good.

And, well.  2016 had plenty of Good.

  • I got a new bike.
  • I took up watercolor.
  • My knee is healing and I can run again.
  • I had a great week with Dale and Carole when they came to visit.
  • I went to Scotland and Ireland with my sister.
  • I celebrated 8 years of remission.
  • And 35 years of marriage.
  • I spent a lot of quality time with my mom before she got sick.
  • I visited both kids with fun trips to Pittsburgh and Boulder.
  • We got new windows in our house -- and wifi at the cottage.
  • My garden looked really great early in the season.
  • I was able to spend a lot of time with my sister.
  • Tom was an incredible support and held me together every day.
  • My dad and I worked together to . . . move mountains.
  • Everyone came home for a wonderful Thanksgiving week.
  • We saw Elton John.  (Also Boston and Kansas.)
  • The J-pups brought much love and wagging tails to every day.
  • Shoot . . . the Cubs won the World Series!

Jesse Owens was right . . . the good IS all around us.

And I'm gonna find it.