My son the Rhino

To Jeff…the Rhino Principal article as I promised with an added note from me.  Love Mom

When I ran across this article by Paul Johnson called the Rhino Principle, I of coarse thought of you and as I thought of you I felt extremely proud. I felt proud of who you are, how you have overcome obstacles in your life, the continuing evolution of your maturity, your determined personality, your perseverance, your vision for life and the gentleness and the love that comes from within you.

At the risk of repeating what you are about to read in the article The Rhino Principle, I want to share the last part of the article now just to emphasis how I perceive you.

From the article… “We can choose to lead quiet lives and get through them without achieving much. But if we want to do the big thing, if we hope to leave a record that will be admired and remembered, we must learn to distinguish between the peripheral and the essential. Then having clearly established our central objective, we must charge at it again and again until the goal is achieved.”

I see you this way Jeff; you don’t want to lead a quiet life.   You want to achieve great things. You want to leave a record to be admired and remembered no matter what you do in life. You are learning to “distinguish between the peripheral and the essential” and you are becoming quite adept to doing just that. You have clearly defined and established goals and objectives. And…you charge at them again and again and you do not give up!

You are… The Rhino

 

Here is the article I promised to show you…

The Rhino Principle

By Paul Johnson, eminent British historian and author

(Published in Forbes Magazine, January 30, 2006)

There’s a certain rule in life that I’ve found worth considering. It particularly applies if you’re confronted by a crisis. I call it the Rhino Principle.

Now, the rhino is not a particularly subtle or clever animal. It’s the last of the antediluvian quadrupeds to carry a great weight of body armor. And by all the rules of progressive design and the process of natural selection the rhino ought to have been eliminated. But it hasn’t been. Why not?   Because the rhino is single-minded.   When it perceives an object, it makes a decision-to charge. And it puts everything it’s got into that charge. When the charge is over, the object is either flattened or has gone a long way into cover, whereupon the rhino instantly resumes browsing.

We can choose to lead quiet lives and get through them without achieving much. But if we want to do the big thing, if we hope to leave a record that will be admired and remembered, we must learn to distinguish between the peripheral and the essential. Then, having clearly established our central objective, we must charge at it again and again until the goal is achieved.

That is what the rhinoceros does. It may not be a model animal in most ways. But it does one thing very well. And that one thing we can learn: Charge!

Note:

If you want to see the article in it’s entirety go to:

https://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0130/031.html

Christmas…Mom and Daughter

I’m caught somewhere between my 92 year old mother and my 29 year old daughter. My mother is sentimental and saves things. This really hit me when I helped her put up her Christmas tree this year and the “topper” as she calls it was in a box labeled “1953.” This was the year my mother and father were married and that would make the “topper” 63 years old.

A week or so later I was talking to my daughter on the phone and she said she got rid of all her old Christmas tree decorations and purchased all new ones this year. That pretty much answered the question as to whether or not she would like to have some of the ornaments I hung on the tree when she was a child. The response is always the same, “no thanks mom, I’m good.” I understand her thought; she loves the memories but just doesn’t want the clutter.

I used to be like my mother and found it heartwarming to save and cherish the ornaments I collected through the years. Each one seemed to have a little memory of some sort attached to it. Each year as I would hang ornaments on the tree I would travel down memory lane. It was sweet.

As we all know life can turn on a dime. It did just that for me a few years ago. I found myself remarried in my mid-fifties to an amazing man who my children and son-in-law, who I count as a son, adopted as their own and who shares two beautiful grandchildren with me. They adore him. So for the past couple of years what used to be a wonderful tradition of hanging ornaments while traveling down memory lane turned into a sour task. Hanging ornaments that held so many memories became a torture of sorts.

I have shifted from my mothers’ frame of mind of saving and cherishing things to my daughters’ frame of mind of hold and release. Both have their benefits but in the end I have come to realize that my daughter is one smart cookie. It saddens me to watch my 92-year-old mother agonize over whom she wants to give her cherished possessions before she passes away. It gives her a sense of peace to know where her things are going but at the same time she is so sad and realizes that years of saving physical things doesn’t really matter in the end.

As I have released “things” in my life I have felt an overwhelming sense of freedom. So this is the year I left all my ornaments each wrapped in tissue in their boxes. I bought a pack of green, red and gold bulbs, made some paper chains, bought a string of white lights and started fresh. And, I fell free.

I thank my mother for instilling in me the thought that memories should be cherished and loved.   And, I thank my daughter for teaching me that we can hold things loosely and make good loving memories without the “things.”

I guess the lesson for me is to love your things, cherish the memories they hold for you but let them go, move forward and realize it’s the people you love and the people that love you that really matter.

Goodbye Summer Garden

(Written in August)

It’s  Sunday morning and we are beginning to sleep in a few minutes more each day. Why? I think because we are on the downhill side of summer and daylight is coming later and going away sooner. It’s the sad side of summer. The realization is setting in that the mornings will be dark as well as the evenings.   People will be getting off work at 5:00 in the evening and walking in the dark to their cars. Oh how I wish summer would last all year long.

I felt strangely contented this early morning as stepped onto the deck out our back door. The air was cooler than it has been, another sign of the changing seasons. It felt refreshing and as I looked at the progress I made in my garden this summer I felt happy. It’s far from being done but when I think back at the brown dry pallet I started with this summer and now look at all the bright yellows, reds, purples white and the variety of flowers, some in full bloom, others like my zinnias that are beginning to die away and my vegetable garden which is still eking out zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes I feel a mix of emotions. I don’t want it to end but I know for now it has too.

So, I shift gears and I think of what I can do to nurture this yard through the winter. Maybe keep the vegetables going with a winter garden. I’ve never tried this so maybe this is the year to attempt some brussel sprouts for my husband, some potatoes maybe and pumpkins…is it to late? I better hurry and get started so I don’t miss this season.

Farewell for now summer garden. I will enjoy the last of you while I can and look forward to expanding on your color and richness next spring.

See you then.

imag7828 imag7825 imag7824

 

Sailboat Beginnings…

As I sat at my desk typing these words I heard a subtle noise over my shoulder. My desk sits near the French doors in the spare room of our 900 square foot home. I looked over my shoulder and my eyes passed over the worn wood that is our deck. I glanced farther to my left to see the tail of a squirrel as he sat on the edge of a flowerpot that holds the gardenia plant I bought so my husband could enjoy the fragrance. The squirrel was busy hiding a nut in preparation for winter.

The seasons are changing and the squirrels activity confirms this. It is October yet it is predicted to be 90 degrees today. Good for us as we just purchased our first sailboat and we are heading to the river!   We are new to the sailing world thanks to meeting new friends in the most unexpected place. Enter, Bill and Lorna.

We went to the local Big 5 store about a year ago to look for a new ice chest. As we do with everything we look and ponder and look and ponder. This time as we were looking at the various ice chests we both noticed a man walk by a couple of times watching us. We glanced at each other acknowledging that we both noticed him. Then we heard, “hi, I hope you don’t mind the intrusion but my wife and I just bought an ice chest not to long ago and this is the one we like.” The conversation went on between the men and as I stood by I noticed a tall attractive blonde woman enter the area.   I could tell by the way she jumped into the conversation and soon drew me into a “girl talk” conversation that she was the type that “knows no strangers.” It turns out the man, “Bill”, was her husband and he also “knows no strangers.” And…of coarse, my husband “knows no strangers” so it was quite the scene.

We exchanged contact information and when Bill asked my husband if we liked to sail he replied, “we don’t know, we’ve never been.” To that Bill said, “if  you ever want to go to just give us a call.” We walked out of that store without an ice chest that day, but we had two new friends.

When we got home the conversation went like this: My husband:   “Wow, we should call them and set up a day to go sailing.” Me.   “Wait! What? We don’t even know them!”   You see, that is the distinct difference between someone “who knows no strangers” and “someone who knows a lot of strangers.”   The conversation went back and forth for a bit and then I realized that I am married to a man that has so many wonderful people in his life, people who he has met at the most random places and times in his life that I decided to “do it afraid” and go for it. So, we called them and set up a sailing date and the day ended up being amazing.

A year later, we have our own sailboat, docked at the same harbor as our friends Bill and Lorna.

So, this is how this new chapter in our lives started. A chance meeting with two great people who I anticipate we will remain imag2747friends with for a long time to come. Since moving our boat to this harbor we continue to meet fabulous people.

My husband feeling happy.
My husband feeling happy.

I feel all kinds of adventures and experiences are in our future. I don’t know what they will be or how they will play out but I for one have decided to go for it, to enjoy the challenges and the adventures.   So this section of my blog will be dedicated to our “sailing adventures,” the good, the bad, the ugly and hopefully mostly the beautiful. I invite you to stay tuned and if you are a sailor reading this…please chime in.

Find Your Passion She Said…

 

This is what she told her kids when they were growing up. “It doesn’t matter what you do in life, just find your passion.”   Translation: If you find your passion you will be happy no matter if you are rich or poor.

It’s funny that she would have this to say to them, she being a woman who really didn’t know what she wanted to do in life. Oh she tried. But, she could never really pin it down. She did what was expected of her, what her parents expected, what her teachers expected and in general what she thought society expected of her.   I guess that’s why it was important for her to instill this in her children. She could never zero in on her own passion so she started to tell her children to find theirs at a very young age. Do they remember? She doesn’t know, maybe they do.

One day she realized that her son was in the process of finding his passion. He was in his early 20’s. He never really had a good male role model to guide him through life so he fumbled and bumbled at times. Thankfully he was born with an independent, passionate, never give up spirit and he had faith. He knew how to stick with life.   It wasn’t always easy for him in fact it appeared on many occasions that he was ready to give up. He didn’t though. He never gave up.

What was his passion you ask?   It was the gym. “Oh good!” his mom thought. “That’s a great outlet for him, to blow off some steam, vent or hit a punching bag.   That’s what boys do right? It was good he found a place to “shake it off.”  What ever “it” was at the moment.

Then… it came. The realization that he was passionate about being in the “ring,” “fighting,” “sparring,” “winning.”  It was a gym for fighters.  What ever you want to call it, he was in a ring with an opponent where he could potentially get knocked around, twisted up, bones broken, bloody noses, blows to the head…. and…more.

It hit her like a ton of brick. He found his passion and it was either getting beat up or beating someone else up. This is not what she had planned for him. But, by this time it was to late.   Could she ground him? Take away his privileges? His gym membership? His car keys? (to the car he owns?) Oh dear. What a dilemma.

It’s not easy being a mom, especially when you have no power over your children because they grow up; they become self-sufficient and are responsible for themselves and their life choices. So, I watched that mom struggle with this passion of her sons. I watched her as she said her prayers asking God to keep him safe and to keep him free from injury and harm. I watched her, as she trusted God.

His mom literally got out of the way, she let her son make his choices, she moved out of God’s way and well…now she is sitting at her computer typing this story knowing that her son will be fighting his first Muay Thai Global Amateur Fight this afternoon. Yes, my son has followed his passion.

Can you really believe it though? We raise our children wondering why they “never” listen, “never” take our advice, “never” understand our infinite wisdom. The one time he listened…. well, you know the story.

The flip side is that he is happy. Didn’t I tell you? Find your passion and you will be happy. And me, well, I have to be honest; it scares me that he loves this particular passion.   I fear for his safety and well being. By the same token I see a confident, self assured content young man.   In some way he has found himself and not that he had anything to prove to anyone but if he did, well he is accomplished in his own right.

Stay safe and strong son…and if you’re going to fight, I hope you win!

Mom

 

The winner is…..yep, he won!  Now can I ground you?

And the winner is....
Winner of his Muay Thai Global Amateur debut.

 

 

Bob…laid to rest

Dear Bob,

You were laid to rest earlier this month. It was a lovely cool sunny morning. We thought we might have rain to contend with, but God was good and he gave us a beautiful, sunny, breezy morning. The grass was so green, the sky so clear and blue and fresh. The flowers on your casket were bright and vibrant. There were gerbera daisies, gladiolas in bright reds and yellows, lots of greenery and of coarse the tulips you loved so much.

There were already a few people there as we arrived. We each greeted and introduced ourselves to each other. Even though some of us were new to each other, we all had you and your love in common.   There were plenty of smiles and the gratitude that each person felt for having known you was obvious.

A person cannot exist as you did, so full of love for each person that came into your life, and not expect such warmth and love to be present. The group was intimate, and amazingly consisted of family and friends from various periods of your life. A quilt if you will. Some had known you for a lifetime, some only months. Each person there had a story or a memory to share.

You would have enjoyed the service. Ray spoke lovingly about you. He spoke about how we were there that morning to pay our respects to your “physical body.”   It was simple and lovely.

I do believe your upcoming memorial service will be a “happy celebration” of your life. At 96 it was like you were just getting started. I think the hardest part for you near the end was that you couldn’t get out and about to comfort others. You let us all love you and care for you but we all knew you wanted to hop up and get out to tend to others.

As I sit here on this Sunday morning writing these words, I feel such a loss. I miss you terribly but I am so very thankful that we had the opportunity to re-unite. You once told me that you knew I would be back, you “welcomed me home.” Thank you for the love you gave to me and for the time we were able to share together. For our lunch time talks, our drives up and down the river, our visits to see the grand kiddos and for all the times we would get lost driving somewhere…promising not to share our mishaps with anyone and laughing about it.   And…Tres Leches cake will never be the same without you.

I leave you with this last thought. As you were nearing the end I ran across this Bible verse. It seems appropriate. It was written by the apostle Paul, about himself, near the end of his life. He viewed his approaching death as the “pouring out of his life as an offering to Christ.”

2 Timothy: 6-8

(6) For I am already being poured out like a drink offering. And the time has come for my departure. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (8) Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I can hear you now…”Right on”

With my love,

Your other daughter… Nancy

A moment in time…1977 California State Fair

It was August 24, 1977 the day we strolled through the California State Fair. I honestly don’t remember much other than we were together, happy and enjoying the day. We were young and had been dating for two years. I was just out of high school when we met, a mere 17 years young and inexperienced in life. He was a mature almost 21-year-old worldly and handsome.

I don’t know what prompted us to stop. Neither of us had much money at that time in our lives to spend on extras. Every time I reflect on that day I am so very, very thankful that for whatever reason we stopped at that cutting edge, modern computer photo booth with the classy dot matrix printer.

The man seated us next to each other getting us ready to take our picture, you know, like a school picture. Only, it wasn’t exactly a picture. We watched as he looked at his computer screen and then…back and forth, back and forth the computer printer went back and forth, back and forth. When it was done the man tore the paper off of the printer and handed it to us.

There we were, young and naïve, not knowing what our future held. We stood there starring at that black and white image of ourselves. It was done mostly in hash tags with some commas, and slashes thrown in. When it was done it looked like a pencil sketch.   It was a picture of us forever capturing us in that moment.

IMAG8500-1
1977 California State Fair “dot-matrix photo”

I am so thankful for that picture and that memory. You see, we continued to date for a few more years. Then life happened and we went our separate ways and lived our lives apart, not seeing or hearing from each other for nearly thirty years. Neither of us forgot the other and as life would have it we came back together one day.  It was like no time had ever passed between us and we picked up where we left off.   We were older, wiser and still in love.

That picture is now framed and hangs on the wall of our bedroom so every time we enter the room it’s the first thing we see. Again, each time I look at that picture, I am thankful for that day in 1977 at the California State Fair, thankful that we found each other again and thankful that God kept us safe and ready for the day we reunited.

We stopped trying to figure out why or how things happen the way they do. I can only speak for myself but I thank God everyday for the second chance I have been given to love this man that got away from me so many years ago.   Every time I walk into our bedroom and look at that picture I smile and I am thankful.

In the Garden…

Well, we have been in a drought for 3 years now. The back yard is parched, dry and dusty. What to do… I didn’t know what to do so I picked up a rake on that hot dry morning and I started to rake the dry grass into a pile. That’s how it started. Rake, rake, rake.

Before I knew it I had piles of dry grass and leaves that had to be carried out of the back yard.   I had so much to clear out I thought I was going to go crazy. Slowly but surely I cleared the yard. It soon became a blank canvas. As it did, I began to visualize what I wanted to do. We had a pile of used brick on the side of the house and so I started to chip off the old concrete. It’s funny how satisfying it can be to clean old brick. I know, I’m weird and thank goodness I am very task oriented.

IMAG8245
Garden Path

As my pile of clean brick began to grow, I started to see a curved walkway from the wood deck out to the shady corner of the yard. I dug out a path, laid that brick down and then took it up, laid it down again, took it up and laid it down a third time. They say the third time is a charm. Well, charm or not, I was not taking it up again. I call it my umpity, bumpity walkway…or vintage. Ya, that’s it, my vintage walkway is perfectly uneven.

IMAG7828
Zucchini everywhere!

Plants were put along each side of the walk way and since it was well into April I decided to include a vegetable garden. There are only two of us so I put in three zucchini plants, three English cucumbers, one bell pepper just because they’re fun to grow and four different kinds of tomato plants. I squeezed all these plants into an area that was about five feet by eight feet.   Yep, way to small and I knew it, but that’s what I did and it worked!   The plants grew quickly, I shared with the neighbors and now we are nearing the end of the summer and we are still having fresh cucumber and tomato salad every night. All we need now is an avocado tree!

The yard needed more color so it seemed every time I ran to the store or post office or any other errand I ended up at the nursery. Do you know how wonderfully therapeutic it is to wander aimlessly through a well-stocked nursery? I was in heaven very often this summer.

IMAG8205
Painted pot with zinnias…

I painted old ugly flowerpots bright yellow, orange, blue, green, marigold (yes, that’s a color) and even desert pottery color. I planted zinnias, daisies, marigolds, vinca, geraniums, ferns, impatiens and I’m not near done filling the yard with color. But, the season is coming to a close so for now I will be patient and imagine what next year will bring. Of course, there will be some winter flowers and maybe a small winter vegetable garden…Brussel sprouts maybe for my husband.

I’m thankful for my time in the garden this year. While working in it, I often thought of my years growing up when I would water my moms’ garden. Mom would cook up all sorts of good meals from our fresh vegetables. And, we would trade with our neighbors and cousins. I can still smell the summer air. The dry grasses, the sugar mill the harvest. I can still smell my dad when he would come home from a hard day on the farm. Farm smells, there is nothing better.

Yep, gardening takes me home again to good memories and makes me miss those carefree summers as a child.

 

IMAG8145
Visiting Butterfly
IMAG8177
My Pink Zinnias
IMAG8183
Profusion Orange Zinnias

Loving call from mom…

I just entered the Wal-Mart store and my phone rang. I usually don’t hear my phone when it rings but for some reason I had just reached into the outside pocket of my purse and felt it vibrate before I heard the ring.   I picked it up and saw it was mom calling.

“Hi mom.” As many of our conversations begin she said, “Hi Nancy, did you just try to call me?” I replied, “If I did, it wasn’t on purpose, it would have been a pocket dial.” She laughed and said, “Ya, I know how that is.” I don’t think she really did. Technology is not her thing.

Anyway, she went on to tell me how good the zucchini was that I had given her from our vegetable garden. She laughed and said someone had left some macaroni and cheese in her refrigerator from the 4th so she tossed some into her zucchini and made it all nice and cheesy. She was giggling like a little girl, “It was so good!” she said.

We talked for a while.   I told her I was at the store so she said she would let me go and then proceeded to talk on. That’s her MO lately. She loves to talk and sometimes I hear the same stories over and over but that’s okay I don’t mind. She just turned 92 in May and she had a TIA a month or so before that. She’s not quite been the same and I can see her failing, a little at a time.

As we were ending the conversation she kept telling me how much she loved me. She told me how she would not have been able to get through the day on the 4th without my help.   I told her I would always be there for her, to pick up the slack. She was so appreciative and said she so enjoyed the day.  I know the simplest tasks wear her out these days.

She kept saying, “Really Nancy,  you will never know how much I love you, really, you will never know.” By this time I’m standing in the pasta isle at Wal-Mart and tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I thought to myself, “You know, if this is the last time I ever talk to my mother her last words to me would be her telling me how much she loves me.”   And I would be ok with that.   That would be the best gift ever.