How to Keep it Light

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Are you wondering what subjects are acceptable in polite conversation? It seems there are so many pathways leading us into a swamp of quicksand. Here is a broad subject you can safely navigate. Ask about their worst times. Offer up some specifics; the worst meal they created or ate, the worst grade they received in school, the worst motel they stayed in, the worst movie they saw. Chances are time has turned these experiences into humorous events.

I remember my worst sewing mistake. My father was 5’ 11” with a wiry build. His arms belonged on a linebacker, requiring a 36” sleeve. It had become increasingly difficult to find his preferred Western style shirts in a Medium size with a 36” sleeve. I had successfully sewn many tailored shirts, even for my dad. For Christmas 2008, I purchased a bright red denim and found the well-worn pattern in my sewing box. I laid out the pieces, measuring the sleeve length of 36”. I sewed the top-stitching perfectly, aligned the Mother of Pearl snaps with care, added the stitching on the pocket for his ever-present pencil with the clip, and cut the shirttail long, just as he liked.

As I carefully wrapped my gift, I imagined his face brightening into a broad smile as he lifted the lid and unfolded the tissue paper, knowing he would have a shirt that ended at his wrist instead of pulling four inches up his forearm. As he lifted my gift up from the package, I thought the sleeves looked odd. Dad hurriedly removed his 32” sleeved shirt and tried on my gift. We all laughed long and hard. The end of the sleeves reached 2 inches below the tips of his fingers!

crazy sleevesWhat had happened? After some discussion with my mother, I realized I had forgotten men’s sleeves measured from the nape of the neck, not from the shoulder. I promised I would take it home and fix it, but try as I might, it was impossible. He never got another handmade shirt from me, but we still have the precious memory and the photo. I imagine he is laughing even now on the other side as he looks over my shoulder.

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Road Trip Technology

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We were midway on the second day of our 4-day road trip from Colorado to Florida, successfully navigating the Dallas, Fort Worth interstate wormhole when the GPS in the car and the GPS on my iPhone seemed to be duking it out like two hussies at a backwoods bar.

It all began with my search for a bar-b-que restaurant near me as we headed south on I-45 toward Houston. As luck would have it, there was a restaurant coming up just south of Ennis, Texas that had a high customer rating. It sounded like a local hole-in-the-wall, which suited my husband, Wayne, and I just fine. I directed him to leave the interstate at the next exit. That’s when the problems began.

The car GPS immediately started her protest that we were off course while my iPhone Google Map tried to talk louder in an attempt to direct us to the restaurant, “Turn right on Main Street…”. The rest was unclear as I started the process to turn off the routing on the car GPS.

It seemed my iPhone wanted us to take a left, but I didn’t see the little local street we had already past. My attention was elsewhere. Google Maps seemed quite content for us to continue on FM 1183, as we drove past pastures and the occasional farmhouse. This didn’t seem right. I could have sworn the original search indicated it was right off I-45. There wasn’t an easy place to turn around, so we continued on FM 1183 as Google Maps directed. By the way, FM in Texas refers to “Farm to Market”. In times past, rural farmers taking their crops to town used these local roads roads. Sure enough, my phone directed us to make a left.

“This looks promising”, I said, thinking we were at least heading back the way we had come.

The paved apron quickly turned into a white clay road riddled with potholes. Wayne deftly avoided most of them while we waited for the next directions emanating from my phone. The scenery was enjoyable, mostly residential on 2-5 acres, well-maintained yards and the occasional cow grazing in a pasture. As we made the third and final turn, I saw FM 1183 coming up. It looked very familiar. We could see the I-45 overpass over to the right as we turned onto the blacktop.

Now we were both curious where this restaurant was! Sure enough, we turned onto the North Freeway Frontage Road, drove past the convenience store where we made our first erroneous turn and saw our destination just beyond, “Alma Smokehouse BBQ”. We both laughed at the absurdity of modern technology. If we had just followed our instinct, we would have found it 20 minutes earlier!

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The Pull of the Moon

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I woke up just before 4:00 am and almost immediately started crying, even sitting up gasping between sobs. The release of emotion had a calming effect as I laid back down and thought of my husband. Today I’d be spreading his ashes. I wiped away the tears from my cheeks, and sat up on the edge of the bed meant for two.

As every morning, I walked to the kitchen sink and drew water to drink, 24 ounces, and then an equal amount in a pitcher for the coffeemaker. I noticed a brightness on the dark landscape outside the kitchen window. Then I remembered the full moon was just two nights away. As I leaned closer to the glass, I saw a slightly ovoid bright moon in the western sky, and thought, “That’s cool. I wonder if the coyotes and mule deer are noticing the same scene.”

I returned my attention to making coffee and gathered my writing materials for my daily journaling. As I sat in the semi-dark, writing my thoughts on the emotional start to my day, something caught my attention in the picture window to my left across the house. The moon was starting to set in earnest. My curiosity stirred. I turned off the reading lamp and waited for my eyes to adjust. I felt drawn to the moonlight like a Luna moth drawn to a porch light.

The brightness of the moon was so intense, I shielded my eyes to better adjust to the winter landscape outside. A warm few days had melted most of the snow, revealing the dead stalks of native grasses. No animals materialized in the moonlit landscape, but I felt their presence, the rabbits like statues hoping to escape a predawn meal for a coyote or owl.

My attention turned back to the rapid setting of the moon. The shadowy surface mesmerized me as the unseen energy filled my heart with joy. A smile spread across my face.

Moon over the La Garita Mountains

I continued to watch the moon gain momentum as it drifted downward toward the rocky ridge of Carnero Canyon. At the connection between the heavens and earth advanced I saw the outline of a pinon pine branch backlit by the moon. I imagined a giant magnifying glass between my eyes and the tree half a mile away. As I watched the final seconds of the moon’s descent, my chest felt warm in the beauty of the moment, grief banished. The bright orb slipped out of sight, leaving behind a glow in the dark sky.

The simple act of being in the moment granted my soul peace and love. I was no longer a prisoner of my feelings. What had started as a very sad day had turned into the promise of happier times.