Category Archives: Random Reflections

“Follow the Yellow Trail”

My gal V recently watched parts of the Wizard of Oz with her grandfather, Poppi (don’t worry…not the scary parts).  As a result, she’s been taking her Wizard of Oz figurines, bequeathed by my mother, and making them dance and sing “Follow the Yellow Trail!”

We like exploring trails in our family. This July, we took a wonderful walk on the C&O Canal path.  It was a beautiful day and being in nature together, exploring with the ever-curious V, and wandering down by the river to explore some winding paths made the experience complete.  We took along the cameras and I thought I would share some shots from our journey.

V and Daddy by the river. (photo by PML)

V taking her own pictures!

What we call dwellings for the fairies… (Photo by PML)

One of the two butterflies that fluttered around us near the river. They were lovely!(Photo by PML)

V and Mama!

V showing Daddy “sumpit”. (Photo by PML)

A beautiful view (Photo by PML)

The next few photos are part of what M and I like to call our “Decay” series.  M coined the phrase and had the idea for the series though we both make contributions to our collection. We have taken many different shots from excursions and trips that represent decay in life.   It helps us to find beauty in the things that die, corrode, or deteriorate in life.  Here are some of our “decay” shots from the Canal path.

Abandoned Shoe (Photo by PML)

Carcass (Photo by PML)

Untitled (Photo by PML)

And one last colorful shot of the mystical beauty we found at the water’s edge…

Peace (Photo by PML)

I hope you enjoyed your photo journey with us.

What are some places of beauty you have found in your life lately?

Where can you find peace and loveliness in the decay in your life?

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Stepping out of the Want Pit

While waiting for her pancake lunch today, my two year old daughter sung an impatient song while pounding a rhythm on the table: “I want, I want!”

Having had one of those mornings, her words snatched at me like a parent trying to pull their child back from traffic.  “I WANT” reverberated in my head.

I’ve been looking so hard lately for some inner peace.  There are things I want to change about myself as a person, a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a professional and when those things all come to the surface of my consciousness at once, sometimes I feel like I am drowning in an ocean of my own making.  I forget to put my feet down, put my head up above the surface to just breathe, and just tread water for a bit until I can see what I need to do to move forward.

My daughter’s words caught my attention today because part of what I’ve been immersed in lately is want.  Wanting something different than who I am, wanting to be beyond a period of change, wanting more security, more adventure, more success, more confidence, more bravery, more love.  When you mire yourself in want, what initially looked like a fordable waterway becomes a mud pit of being stuck.

It’s ok to dream or have visions and hopes for your life but when you attach yourself to a particular outcome or try to overly control the path, when dreams and hopes turn into yearning or dissatisfaction, everything comes up wanting.  As we can’t guarantee that we have more than a moment to move towards fulfilling that want, focusing on it to the exclusion of the peace we can find by being present in the moment seems like a foolish, masochistic choice.

Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on being in the moment with all of that moment’s imperfections and just letting it be.  When I come up against resistance within myself in the attempt, I’m trying to accept that as well, and let it pass.  Instead of reaching and grasping and coming up empty; you can put your arms around yourself and have something to really hold onto.  Stepping out of that mud pit of want may be the first steps towards a journey of inner freedom.


The Day I Set Myself on Fire and Other Kitchen Fire Stories

The cutie pie that prompted the flour mess which kept me cleaning in the kitchen and not in another room while our stove fire started! Thank goodness for messes!

You know how they say things come in threes?  Well, this week I finally added a third kitchen fire to my list of accomplishments.

Yes, you heard me right.  I’ve started three kitchen fires in my “quasi” adult life.  And I’m not a professional cook.

I know that fire is a serious thing.  I was a Girl Scout and often assigned the job of “woodie” as a camper.  (Stop snickering, you dirty minded readers.  A woodie is someone who gathers fire wood, starts the fires, maintains the fire-water bucket complete with stick so small critters can escape, and most importantly, cleans the latrines…)

I also know that there are many people who have been victims of fires in their life and who have had their person or property damaged by fire.  My heart goes out to those folks, and I would never treat those types of situations lightly.  But humor in life helps assuage tragedy and so I share my own rather ridiculous fire related stories with thankfulness as a way to laugh at my perpetual mishaps.

The first fire-related incident took place over Thanksgiving many years ago.  I was about 16 or 17 at the time and was helping my mother set the table for dinner.  Reaching over a candle, with what I thought was enough clearance, I set an item down for the place setting, then wondered aloud, “What is that smell?  Is something (meaning food) burning?”

The response my parents gave me was not what I expected.  Out of what seemed like nowhere, they threw me on the ground and started beating at me.  Apparently, I was on fire.  Smelling the singed ends of my hair afterwards, I realized that the sleeves of my 80’s style polyester sweater had just grazed the candle, allowing flame to travel up my arm to the tips of my hair.  Remarkably, aside from my hair and my pride, there was no damage.  The sweater had some crazy chemical layer that had burned off; not a mark remained.  My family loves to recall this event, dredging it up when I set the table near an open flame or reminiscing fondly over turkey about the time I caught myself on fire.

It was probably about 12 years later, in a townhouse apartment that I shared with my husband, that I started my next kitchen fire.  Absentmindedly preparing a BLT dinner, I had wandered into our dining/living area when I heard a loud bang in the kitchen and ran in to see open flames on the stove.  I had set a dinner plate on a hot burner and it had heated and shattered, setting the bacon greased towel and bacon pieces that it contained aflame. I seem to remember my husband dealing with this particular incident as I reacted hysterically.  Amazingly, once I catch things afire in the kitchen, I mentally block the aftermath.

Not quite 5 years later, (though I am averaging one fire per decade of my life so far) this week, I completed the cursed trio of kitchen fires.  Having a productive morning of baking three batches of zucchini bread with my daughter, making homemade smoothies and lemonade, cutting up the week’s fruit produce for easy eating, doing multiple loads of dishes, and cleaning up my daughter V’s flour sensory play, I popped some boxed mac & cheese on the stovetop for lunch.

While the water boiled, I busily vacuumed the flour mess off of my daughter’s booster seat and argued with her over the use of the vacuum only to have my senses send me a warning message as I said “What’s that smell?”  I turned around to find the cardboard mac & cheese box tipped into the gas flame burner and burning at an alarmingly quick rate.  I gasped, grabbed the box, threw it in the sink to douse with water, then opened all the windows and turned on fans to dissipate the smoke.

V was all in a dither.  “What’s the problem Mommy!”  “What’s on fire?”  “Come here Mommy, I show you where the fire lives.”  (Note to self:  fire belongs in the fireplace.  Even a two year old knows that…stupid, STUPID Mommy!)  Apparently, “you light a fire, you have a little picnic, then you blow it all out.”  That’s what you are SUPPOSED to do with fire.

Lesson learned, V.

Evidently, I have a problem in the kitchen.  Or I am cursed.  Hopefully, with the culmination of my third fire experience, I’ll be a little more aware and a little less distracted in the kitchen.  But with each mishap, I have to admit the dreamy, crazy multitasking aspects of my nature haven’t much changed.  Perhaps my husband should kick me out of the kitchen as a potential hazard to people and property.  Here’s hoping.

I hope you enjoyed a laugh with me today, but seriously, if you don’t have a kitchen fire extinguisher on hand, and you plan to invite me over…you are taking your chances.  Get a fire extinguisher, check the batteries and operation of your smoke detectors, and stay alert while cooking.  I’ve learned these lessons firsthand and thankfully, I’m here to share them with you today!


Labor Pains and Stretchmarks

It helps to have support!

I’ve been thinking this week how internal growth and expecting a child share some similarities…

It is hard work and uncomfortable.

Facing things we want to change in our lives is a difficult process.  It requires endurance, stamina, sometimes intense discomfort, and often a whole lot of aching.

It causes some sleepless nights.

Sometimes you just have to get up, pop on a movie or immerse yourself in a book and give yourself a break from the process, so you can rest through the sleepless times.

We aren’t always sure what to expect.

Changing yourself can affect your relationships and impact your subsequent life choices.  Once you commit to the change, it is hard to predict what will happen, but chances are, it will be worth it!

It can be simultaneously anxiety provoking and exciting!

Internal growth can be freeing, can open our hearts and minds and bring greater joy and authenticity to our lives.  But it isn’t a painless process.  It is one that can create some anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion.  At the same time, feeling yourself move past some difficult stages, toward the future, can create a sense of empowerment and hopefulness. Allowing all those feelings to coexist during the process helps us move through those moments where we may want to turn back or stuff something down again.

You can have a new life.

We all have the power to make changes inside ourselves.  It isn’t always pretty and can be as scary as facing down childbirth, but in the end, it can be extremely rewarding.

I’m doing some intensive internal work right now and having been through this process of self-analysis, discovery, weeding, stretching, learning, and growing before, I know I won’t regret the effort.  Though each labor is different, and we can’t predict the outcome of stretching ourselves, growth is empowering and life giving.  It is what keeps us from stagnating inside and allows us to move past the internal barriers that seek to limit who we are.

So I’m going to face down my comfort zone, knowing that I’m in for some pain along the way.  Because even if the experience isn’t perfect, I know what I really would regret is shutting down inside.  I would regret missing out on the person I am meant to become.  Instead, I know I’m going to wear those stretchmarks with pride on the flip side.

Linking up with Shell’s


The Fall of Fort Thunderbird

The Next Generation…

I missed a call from my Dad this weekend.  I was putting my daughter down for her nap at the time and came out to hear a message from him.

“Hi Pam.  It’s Dad; I’m up North and doing something you’re not going to like.  I have to tear down the fort.  It’s getting old and I’m worried kids will climb on it and get hurt.”

It was sweet of him to leave me the message and he was right that I am sad about the demise of “Fort Thunderbird,” the scene of so many wonderful childhood memories.  But I know he’s right:  it’s time.

Certainly any parent can’t argue with the logic of removing warped and rotting boards that might beckon children to a bad fall from a tall, previously wonderful tower where you can gaze through the dense woods with binoculars, looking for deer, birds, or a rogue pirate sneaking up to ambush.

And every adult could understand that an empty theatre, with a stage visited only by ghosts of children performing plays about sailors, pirates, and wounded souls in need of laser surgery, is no longer operational.

But I know why he really left the message.  He’s seeing his children charge him a quarter for those performances, running around in the pirate hats, with swords he handcrafted from paint sticks, and secret treasure maps he drew in his own hand.  He’s hearing small feet come thundering down the path from the fort screaming about snakes.  He’s emptying buckets of rocks collected by small hands and left in the tower for safekeeping.  He’s remembering those precious days of freedom we all found together, away from work and the duties and obligations of home.  Summer vacations at the cabin where we all spent time in nature and in the company of each other were the best memories of my young life and I know they were some of his as well.

My Dad has gently reminded me that time is changing and we cannot hold onto the things of our past forever. We have to evolve and grow and open ourselves to new and equally wonderful journeys. My daughter, V, my little niece, A, and any subsequent additions to our family will not experience the joys my sisters and I got from the tower fort with real bark walls that my parents erected some 20+ years ago.  But they will still have a family who believes in the power of imagination and fantasy.  I know we’ll find new ways to pass on our dreams and experiences to the newest generation in our family. Though their feet will never climb the tower of Fort Thunderbird, nor grace the performance stage, and they will never set an old rope spool for tea while seated on driftwood seats inside it, together we will make our own magical childhood summer memories.

Thanks to my parents for gifting us with “Fort Thunderbird” (alternately known as “Thunderbird Theatre”) and for inspiring us to use our creativity through play in nature.


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