Shedding the Netgative Stuff

I marvel at my non-stick frying pans. For years I have heard the praises of Pam. Spray it on a casserole dish and the clean-up is so easy. Spray it on a cookie sheet–no more residue on the cookie sheet when you remove the cookies. Pretty easy way to not have to get rid of what you didn’t want to happen in the first place.

There is a great lesson in the can of Pam or the non-stick pan that makes even the use of Pam unnecessary.  Prevent unwanted things from happening. Prevent unwanted words from cluttering your mind. Prevent negative stuff from sticking to your psyche, your soul, your mind, or your heart.

When you get up in the morning, step in the shower, let the water cover you with a non-stick film. Let the Pam mentality in. Let it clothe you with non-stick potential. When the negative comments come, when the top 100 reasons are given why something can’t be done or won’t work, don’t worry; your personal non-stick covering will shed it all. And when someone assures you that the sun didn’t come up, stand in their shadow for just a second. When someone tells you the day is horrible and their bubble of negativity is reaching to engulf you, rest assured; your non-stick bubble will be secure.

When I was in high school, I was called a “hay seed.” That was meant to be a derogatory remark about farm kids from some of the town kids. I’m not certain when or how I became clothed in non-stick material. Pam wasn’t around as a model; non-stick pans certainly were not available. But somehow I knew that I could not allow myself to spend time trying not to be what someone called me, or tried to make me be. I was embarking on my own path, the one that was mine alone. Somehow I knew that each one of us had a path. If this were not so, why were we each created to look different? No two alike unless it was my twin cousins. But knowing two could look alike didn’t dissuade me from seeing the evidence before me that we are all different. Knowing this, I had to spend my time on my own path, not trying to stay off of someone else’s path, or a path someone else had created for me.

I would avoid the brambles of doubt and the rough terrain of fear and envy. My non-stick coating would repel any waves of negativity that tried to wash gullies in my path. I believe that I was created with a path that is mine; there may be other travelers on the same path. I welcome them.

Others who are not sure of their own path seem to be the most prone to suggest new roads, detours, or alternate routes for mine. But my path was designed by greater powers. My path is as individual as my being. And I will follow it.



At the End of the Driveway–The Figures in he Clouds

The end of the driveway is the first leg of my grateful walk. I always stop for a few minutes to make certain that I remember how very fortunate I am. I find a little patch of shade where the gentle breeze will cool the air a bit. As I view the beautiful California sky, it’s easy to be a little girl in Iowa again.

The clouds that grace the blue sky are perfect for me to recognize shapes and figures. The clouds are so accommodating; the lion gradually morphs into a giraffe that becomes a ship with sails.   And I can travel to far places where the animals live.  Clouds are wonderful reminders that they move and change and follow the path they were created to follow. I’m so glad I haven’t forgotten how to see more in the clouds than people tried to teach me to see. Just think, if I could remember only what I learned in science about clouds, how much less I would enjoy my skies.

As I see my hawks, hummingbirds, the white heron, and all the others, I’m so glad I believe they are like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. They are all seeking to be the most that they were created to be. Jonathan was never happy with the scraps on the beach; he could see the horizon and the ships. He would risk the wrath of those who tried to make him just like all the other seagulls to fly toward the horizon.

And so it is with me as I sit at the end of the driveway. I have another day to become all I was created to be. I have been so blessed to have so many who have helped me on my journey. They have allowed me to grow. They have challenged me. They have questioned my path and sometimes suggested detours. Yes, there were those who tried to tell me that they knew more about my path than I did. But there was always that third ear, that sound of the silent soul, the still small voice of self, and the rudder of faith to guide me. I would even risk the wrath of those who tried to keep me on the beach eating scraps.  

I have never been satisfied with the scraps on the beach. I can still see the horizon and the ships in the clouds to get me there. I hope I never lose my capacity to see what I could see as a little girl in Iowa, born with everything that she needed to become all that she could be.

That’s why I take a grateful walk everyday. I cannot appreciate the next step until I am grateful for the one that I have just taken. I cannot see the horizon if I do not look in that direction. I want my grandchildren (and all children) to see me looking toward the horizon each day that God gives me breath. Go Colin, Kera, Hailey, and Cassidy. You have everything that you need to be all that you can be.

“Today It’s Peaches and Pears”

It’s another hot day in Iowa. And it’s another early morning wake-up call. When my sister and I tumble out of bed in the summer at six, we know it’s going to be a long day of work. It’s usually to do some canning before the day reaches its greatest heat. This day we knew what our work would be. We had been to the market the day before, and mother had purchased two boxes of peaches and one box of pears.

We had the pleasure the day before to have one of our treats for the summer–fresh peaches and cream. And we had the additional joy of having fresh pears. We bought very little fruit from the store; for us it was a real treat to have peaches and pears in one day. As much as we enjoyed our fresh peach and pear, we knew what the morrow would bring.

When we descended the stairs, we knew mother had been working for some time. The pleasant aroma of canned peaches filled the air. Mother had already canned several jars open-kettle style. When I saw the jars of peaches, I knew that would mean fewer for us to peel. Mother always had everything ready for us. Probably a good thing; we weren’t the two most alert girls at that time of the morning.

he hot water bath was ready for the peaches, and the water in the canner would be just right for the jars we prepared. The syrup was prepared and ready to pour on the peaches. Dunk them in the hot water for a few seconds, and the peelings would come off with ease. At mother’s direction, we cut them into halves or quarters and packed them into the sterilized jars, poured the hot syrup on, and they were ready for mother to put the lids on and place them in the canner. Not such a tough deal.

The pears were another matter. For two sleepy girls early in the morning on a summer day when we were on our vacation, it was difficult to peel those darned pears. Peeling is not difficult, but peeling the way we had to was another matter. The peeling had to be very thin. We could not waste the flesh of the pear. There was a constant reminder. “Girls. Thin, thin, thin.” After fighting a slippery pear and winning the battle for thin peelings, we cut the pears into halves or quarters and packed them into the sterilized jars and filled the jars to the correct level with the syrup. Sometimes we would have one batch done before the other was out of the canner. Mother would carefully cover the prepared jars with towels to protect them from a possible breeze that could break the hot jars. I was never sure  about that part of the operation; I don’t remember feeling a breeze on those hot days in Iowa.

We were so happy when we were released from our duties in the hot kitchen. After all, the wood-burning stove produced as much heat in the summer as it did in the winter. Mother would emerge from the kitchen occasionally as she waited for a batch to process. All this time, she had to keep feeding wood to that heat-producing beast to maintain heat enough to keep the water boiling on the processing fruit.

We knew when we entered the kitchen at the end of the operation of “peach and pear” day that the jars would be neatly placed on the table to cool. The bright orange peaches and the delectable white pears would add their pieces to the wall of color forming on the shelves in the basement. But when we opened a jar of peaches or pears in the winter and the snow was swirling outside, the temperature of the kitchen in the summer had swindled with each explanation n of our experience. After all, at the point of eating the delectable fruit, it might even have turned into a happy memory. Mother did allow us to sleep until six.

The Signers–56 Brave Men

It was on July 4, 1776, that the church bells finally started to ring over Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence had been adopted. There had been much secrecy surrounding the meetings of the brave souls who risked everything, including the charge of treason, to be in that room that day.

The 56 men were lawyers, pastors, merchants, physicians, and farmers. There was a printer, a musician, an inventor, and more. They were men going about their lives, fulfilling their dreams, and playing with their children. Then, as now, lawyers made up the largest group; there were 24.Pennsylvania had the most signers with nine. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest; he was 70. John Rutherford was the youngest; he was 26. Eight were born in Europe.

John Hancock’s signature is the largest and most prominent. He was the first to sign and the signature rests in its own white space. The name became synonymous with “signature.” “Give me your John Hancock,” or “Put your John Hancock here,” means your signature. His signature was as flamboyant as was his reported life style.

Have you ever wondered what the derivation of “gerrymandering” is? I have, but I never have taken the time to find out. When I read the short biographies of the signers this week, I learned so many interesting things. Among the signers was Eldridge Gerry, a man from Massachusetts. Eldridge was a graduate of Harvard College, a merchant, governor, he opposed the federal constitution, and taught us about redistricting. He was soundly criticized for redistricting to advantage his political party for re-election. “Gerrymandering” has been with us for awhile.

All these men were so very interesting; but they were much more. They were extraordinary patriots. They pledged everything to the cause of freedom, and they risked everything. And most of them gave everything. They saw their land and homes destroyed, and the men with fleets of ships and merchants with successful businesses saw it all destroyed. Their families as well were targets.

The bells rang in Philadelphia and our freedom was born. We got up this morning in this free land. Conversations and the news quickly turned to the celebrations of the day. Fireworks displays, band concerts, parties, patriotic parades, flags waving, and families and friends gathering. Hot dogs at the baseball game and barbecues at the park, or maybe a swim party. This is our fourth of July.

When I took my grateful walk this morning, I took a little extra time to be grateful for my freedom. It was foggy at 6 o’clock, and I could see very little just a short distance from me or just the shadows of the buildings below me by the stream at the bottom of the slopes. In a short hour or so, all would be visible. When the fog cleared, it would all be there as it was yesterday when the sun broke through. All this to be grateful for in a free land.

When the signers woke up on the morning of July 4, 1776, they still had work to do. It would be well into the afternoon before the bells could ring over Philadelphia.

We still have work to do; freedom is not free nor is it sustained with fireworks and holiday parties, picnics, and parades.