Posts Tagged ‘life’s lessons’

"She left the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin' out on the line."                     ~ sara evans

“She left the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin’ out on the line.”
~ sara evans


“I still loved Granny. It flowed out of my chest. With Granny gone, where would my love go?”
― Jessica Maria Tuccelli, Glow


“She looks so beautiful… so peaceful… her skin is so smooth and she has no wrinkles,” Tammy whispered softly about her grandmother, as the three of us stood quietly beside her on the day of her death.

Stacey called me and with faltering voice left a message…. “This is so hard to say, Sis, but I think you’d better come quickly.” I knew immediately what she meant. Among so many fears of mine was being with someone I loved so much when they died. So. .. I hesitated briefly, I’m ashamed to admit, and thought for a moment not to come. I could so easily say that I never got the message but in the end…. I didn’t.

In her youth my mother was a beautiful woman. In old age, her beauty shone through all the pages of history that was her story to tell.

I remember looking out the window of her room at the traffic passing so swiftly on the highway and thinking so clearly just after she took her last breath… ‘How can they all be carrying on with life as usual… my mother has just died.”


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Sunny breezy days are ideal for drying clothes and this particular Monday morning in late April offered up sheer bliss. Mom’s demeanor would lighten considerably when she stepped outside to greet such a day.

“It’s more important to have a good breeze than it is to have direct sunlight, Julie” she’d lecture me. “But, today we’re blessed with both and our clothes will dry quickly, without wrinkles and the need to iron.”

After all, it was the ‘fifties’ and, in our household anyway, a clothesline was still a necessity. And yes… we had electricity and Mom had an electric wringer washer which could nearly squeeze the life out of our jeans and towels and sheets but couldn’t quite get them dry enough. Mom’s laundry room was a small corner of the basement with a door leading outdoors to where the clothesline stood. Sequestered away in a small space under the stairwell which I called my ‘cave’, I’d idle away the hours it took for Mom to wash and wring dry Monday’s laundry by playing with all my dolls, until it was time to participate in this chore and help her hang them out to dry.

Marcel Proust reflected that “the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, ready to remind us…” If that’s true, and I do believe it is, then hanging laundry outdoors on a spring day is a veritable feast for the senses. Ever savor the taste of wooden clothes pins? I would dutifully follow Mom’s lead and place two or three woody pins in my mouth at once. Crushed clover beneath your feet emitting such sweetness in the air would bring admonitions galore…“Keep your shoes on, Julie. Bees love the sweet fragrance as much as we do.” The perfection of a sunny breezy day flapping those sheets and towels dry made you want to bury your face in their freshness.

Mother never had to bend to get those clothespins, as the bag she slung over her shoulder kept them within easy reach. We had one of those new-fangled clothes lines too, setting us just a bit apart from the neighbors who hung their clothes from lines strung from pole to pole or fence to fence or by whatever means were available. Mom had a ‘fancy’ four-sided, rotating clothesline that my father anchored with cement near the laundry room door so she wouldn’t have to go far carrying all those wet and heavy burdensome clothes. Nor did she have to move around the fancy structure …. she could simply spin the line and new space would be open for her.

In her silent way, she taught me the unspoken etiquette of hanging clothes on a rotating line. This kind of clothes line afforded you some dignity and saved the embarrassment of hanging certain articles of clothing ‘out there’ for God and everyone else to see. Sheets were on the outside lines, doubled up and attached with extra woody pins to keep them from falling to the ground. We’re working inward now and so shirts and towels and such came next, hung very close to one another so that one pin could attach two garments to the line. Lastly, came all those embarrassing undergarments on the very inside where even the clothespins might blush pink, if they were hung and left open to public view. There was a certain pride in hanging clothes neatly plus it saved time in ironing later because neatness helped prevent wrinkles.

“Never leave the pins on the line, Julie” she would instruct me. “They leave stains behind and can simply ruin our next laundry day.”

In the ‘old days’ your laundry was out there for the world to see and it talked. No gossip over the back fence when the laundry is hung out to dry. Extra towels on the line might mean guests in the house. No men’s shirts today might mean Dad’s away on a business trip and so forth and so on. On this particular Monday, my young brother had been ill over the week-end with a wretched bout of stomach flu and so extra sheets were on our clothesline that day offering up sure clues to our neighbors that someone in the household was ill.

When the phone rang, we were both startled out of our morning task. Mom knew she’d better dash inside to answer it, as she was worried about the well-being of my grandmother and wondered out loud if it might be her sister Aline with some news.

As memories go…. that morning was the first that I ever saw my mother cry. The news was bad and though quite young, I knew immediately that my grandmother had died. We were in the kitchen together and I was at a loss for what to do or say when our neighbor, Peggy, knocked on the back door. It was sheer coincidence that she chose that moment to appear but I was never so glad to see anyone. As it turned out, she’d been brought to our doorstep by the laundry that Mom and I had just hung out to dry. She surmised from the extra sheets that someone might be ill and came to see if she could help in some way. Mom just fell into her arms and Peggy was great consolation to both my mother and I on that Monday morning in April.

To be sure, the passing away of a loved one can be almost unendurable. That in the end it is endurable seems to be both its blessing and its curse. ~ Paula Spencer Scott



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"Don't  you know, Nana? Guys don't say 'cute!"

Don’t you know, Nana? Guys don’t say ‘cute!

So so sorry, Adam.

But girls, and especially proud Nanas, do say ‘cute’ when it comes to their adorable grandsons.

Oops! Have I just committed another faux pas?

Cute and adorable in the same sentence. Guess you’ll just have to ‘get over it!’ and live with your Nana’s flattery.

’cause you are so very cute!


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And Now for the Story…

( you just had to know that there’s a story waiting to be told. Didn’t you?)

Ghost theme image 3It was deep into the month of October on a dark and very stormy night.

Ethan, Adam and Nana decided to explore the neighborhood cemetery in hopes of finding a ghost or two or maybe even three.

But… EEKS! They never expected to see their own ghosts floating and wandering hither and thither. “Now what do we do?” they wondered out loud.

“We’re out of here!” shouted Adam at the top of his lungs.


Well now… would that those words were the beginning of the real story. How much more exciting than what really happened that late Saturday afternoon in Autumn.

Ah well!

It’s the “cuteness” of what follows that captured my heart and stuck in my memory banks to end up here on the family blog of memories and pictures galore.

As it was, Adam and I had several hours to spend together that afternoon. Dad and brother Ethan were off to an overnight camp (Adam was still too young for overnights) and Mom was off to a school fund-raiser for the evening. That left Adam in his Nana’s care and with some “mad money” in his pocket just waiting to be spent… his fondest wish was to head into town and visit Teri’s Toybox, our most favorite store. Since this Nana can hardly resist making fondest wishes come true, we did exactly that… take a walk into town before the stores closed that afternoon.

As it happens, our route took us past one of Nana’s favorite stores. Little did Adam know that Nana’s attachment to this store went way back to when Adam’s mother and his Aunt Allison worked there during their high school years. So, Nana couldn’t help but slow down and linger a bit and just window gaze ’cause The Papery is known for their pretty holiday windows and this time of year was no exception.

“Oh Adam, look!” she exclaimed. “Isn’t the window cute?”

The Papery Window

With furrowed brow and obviously a bit peeved at having to slow down and window gaze when Teri’s Toybox was just steps away, Adam responded quickly.

“Oh, Nana, don’t you know that boys don’t say cute?”

Nana’s funny bone was tickled! When did he get so smart, she wondered to herself. Or so already ‘grown up’ that he recognizes that real men don’t ‘eat quiche’ or say cute….

“Oh, you’re right, of course, Adam. What a shame that boys don’t say cute ’cause there’s so much in the world that is just that… cute! Including my kitty Sadie and, you, my dear grandson. But I’ll remember not to say cute. When you get all grown up into a young man…. may I say handsome when you are?”

No answer…. just a shrug of the shoulders and did I detect slightly pink cheeks?

Next stop… Teri’s Toybox and a new treasure to find.

Teri's Toybox

Teri’s Toybox

While we’ve found many a treasure at the Toybox, I do believe that you came home that afternoon with the sword and armor of a knight in shining…. armor that is! Not sure that the impending Halloween holiday had anything to do with your choice ’cause you seemed to be drawn like a magnet to the sword. You came home and swashbuckled all evening. We had a picnic dinner on the blanket and watched some videos and you told me more than once that “this is the best time ever, Nana.”

Well.. we all know by now that those words in one way or another became the ‘Adam mantra’ when he was having a splendid time and appreciating it for all it was worth. But, to my ears, those words were music… a virtual symphony of sound.

Thank you, Adam, for spending such a delightful few hours with your Nana and teaching me just when and when not to use the word cute. I’ve been realizing alot lately how just overused the word is and I’m making more of an effort to improve my vocabulary.

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“Leggo my eggo!”

Emily at age three or so… Breakfast at Nana’s house with glasses big enough to see you. Never mind that they are upside down on the nose. That doesn’t seem to be taking away from enjoying those Eggo waffles and maple syrup. Yummo!

And, all the while, Nana is scurrying around looking for her glasses.

“Now where are they?” she wonders out loud.

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Twas the Night Before Breakfast…


Emily was so tired tonight. So off she went to get all tucked into Nana’s bed.
She lay with her teddy bear and pillow just tossing and turning…first this way…. then that way.

But Emily couldn’t sleep.

“Nana,” called Emily. “Are you still awake?”

“Yes,” answered Nana. “I’m here.”

“I can’t sleep, Nana.” said Emily.

“Why can’t you sleep, Emily?” asked Nana.

“I’m scared,” said Emily.

“What are you afraid of, Emily” asked Nana.

“I’m afraid I might have a bad dream,” said Emily.

“Just think of something happy, Emily. Then you won’t have bad dreams.” said Nana.

Emily tried and tried to think of something happy, but she just couldn’t.

“Nana,” called Emily. “Are you still there?”

“Yes,” answered Nana. “I’m still here.”

“Can you help me think of something that’s happy?” pleaded Emily.

Nana had to put on her thinking cap and think and think. Then she suddenly remembered something very happy that she knew Emily always looked forward to when she came to visit.

“What’s in Nana’s kitchen right now that’s just waiting for breakfast for you and me to share? Can you remember, Emily?”
asked Nana.

“WAFFLES!” shouted Emily… “and butter and maple syrup and…. apple juice. “That’s so yummy,” said Emily. “And happy too!”

Yes,” said Nana. “Now only the dawn is sad.”

“Dawn who?” asked Emily.

Nana chuckled to herself. “Why, that’s just a fancy word for the morning, Emily. I didn’t mean to confuse you.”

“Why is the morning sad?” asked Emily.

“The morning is happy when it gets to wake us up, Emily.” answered Nana.

“But I’m already awake,” said Emily.

“That’s why it’s sad,” said Nana. “If you’re awake now when it’s dark outside, then the morning can’t wake us up when it’s light again.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Emily. “Nana, I’m tired. When the morning comes and wakes me up will you still be here?”

“I’ll still be here,” answered Nana.

“Good,” said Emily. “That’s a happy thing too.”

“Yes,” said Nana. “That’s a very happy thing. Good night, Em!”

A thinking girl


But, Emily didn’t answer.

She was already sound asleep

with dreams of ‘waffles’

dancing in her head.


While my short story is very close to conversations between Emily and I during overnight visits, I must give credit and admit to taking some poetic license and inspiration from Joyce Dunbar’s delightful tale ….Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep

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Behold... my mother's father and my grandpa sand

Behold… my mother’s father and my grandpa sand

Dearest Grandfather,

I’ve been asked to compose a “list poem” enumerating some of my reasons for writing. Like an old clock set to the wrong time, my moment to ask this of you, dear grandfather, has long since passed… You were pilgrim here from Norway, learned the language enough to write your epic poem titled ‘Adam’ and made such accomplished use of your new language that you wrote with feeling, grace and beauty in lines such as…

Beautiful is the isle, when in morning hours
The night’s misty veil flees before the sun.
The stream gives forth merry sounds and
The birch grove whispers of wondrous adventure.

Asking of you what I’m about to set forth would be pure pleasure to know… As your grandaughter and a small child, you seemed formidable and rather stern to me. I do remember the tender moment when you gave comfort to a raging toothache that had me engulfed in pain. You came and sat by my bedside and offered solace with a tender hand and words of comfort. It was, perhaps, the most defining memory and moment that we shared together and I hold it dear.

I wonder if some of my affinity for writing has its’ origin in yours. I do wonder…


Because writing for me:


Facilitates the sound of my own thinking.

Challenges me beyond those pink post-it-notes.

Holds the promise of ‘sweet nothings’ like the secrets in an unopened love letter.

Surpasses the moon as a consolation prize for life’s shortcomings.

Soothes and lulls like the lyrics of a strangely addictive song.

Weeps of new promises to come like the last leaf on the willow tree.

Provides contentment like my cat lying in the sunlight.

Matches the allure and pleasure of getting caught in the rain.

Chronicles niggling memories and stories… for those who follow.

Releases guilt from the taste of a lie.

Gives meaning and expression to my purse filled with brown autumn leaves.

Pulls those fingers out of my pocket.

Yearns for more like the last line in a great book.

Sometimes demands, sometimes allows that I color outside the lines.

Prowls through sunflower moments that blossom into hours of wondering where the time has gone.

Surprises when it gives life to that dead rose in my vase.

Writing is my angel sitting on the log of driftwood where I often end up contemplating and composing with my notebook and an old chewed up pen.

~ julie © october 2012

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Grandpa Sand is now great-grandfather to Amy.. not quite a year old. Treasured picture as he passed away shortly before Amy's sister was born.

Grandpa Sand is now great-grandfather to Amy.. not quite a year old. Very treasured picture, as he passed away just before Amy’s sister, Allison, was born in ’74

I’ve known for years how really treasured this picture is. While the only image of my grandfather and my first born child…. that alone makes it special…. But, if you pay close attention to Amy’s demeanor on her great-grandfather’s lap, you’ll notice that she is smiling, happy, accepting and totally relaxed with someone she just met. I adore her loving gesture as she reached out and touched the lapel of his jacket.
Back to reality and just home from the beach and my favorite log upon which to sit … with this result in response to our weekly prompt at We Write Poems:

I Write (because)…

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Wedding of Emily and George in ‘Our Town”




by a shaft of moonbeam,
dressed in a favored shiny yellow gingham,
and dappled with origami flowers,
she lies radiantly still.

The chatoyancy reflected
off her coppery waves of hair
and cascading strings of glossy pearls
betray a sweet sensuality.

Sandwashed memories spread like starfish rays,
unraveling an embroidered illusion of life…

Why in darkness has so much become visible?
Even the dull, mundane, unglossy moments
deserve ecstatic appreciation.

“Do any human beings ever realize life
while they live it… every, every minute?”
dead Emily asks, nostalgically.

With dispassionate serenity,
the irony in death to see the
potential of life… sad lessons

~ julie © august 2012


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Poem written here today by Julie in response to this week’s prompt #117 on the We Write Poems website: What words mean.

Write a poem that begins and ends with a one word line, that word being the same at both beginning and ending. Yet allow the body of the poem to create that shift in meaning for that one word.

Whew! Challenging to say the least. I wanted the word Chatoyancy to be that one word but, for the life of me, I couldn’t find a way to change its’ meaning as I got to the end of the poem. While the change in meaning for embraced is subtle, I think it fits both Emily and the poem better. You be the judge!

In the play ‘Our Town’ Emily and George are married by the stage manager who, I do believe, has a very chatoyant quality about him in the picture above. Just an observation!

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