Sensitivity   Leave a comment

If there is one word you could use to describe me, this would be it.

I’m emotionally sensitive, morally sensitive, physically sensitive, sensorily sensitive, and probably several other kinds of sensitive.

I can’t handle conflict amongst friends or even acquaintances and will sometimes literally go hide.

I feel horrible when something comes up that I think is wrong which I can do nothing about, or if I have done something wrong, I find it difficult to receive forgiveness and stop feeling guilt.

When I take a new medication or supplement, about 75% of the time, you guessed it, I have to discontinue said substance because it causes side effects, often side effects that I am not “supposed” to be experiencing.

I don’t go to concerts, aside from classical music, because they are just too loud, too many people, too many lights.  I can’t watch a scary or intense movie before bedtime, because I get so into it that I cannot go to sleep.

Shoot, I can’t even finish a difficult book all in one sitting.  I have checked out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch twice and I still haven’t finished it.  I’ve got about 130 pages to go and I’m so connected with Theo Decker that I think I am him or his mother or Pippa.  And I just can’t keep reading right now.  I have to step back and find a safer place for a while.

My father in law once said, when I got my fur rubbed the wrong way by one of his off-hand comments, that I was just too sensitive.

At the time I was offended, but now I fully agree.  He was right!  I am.

I might as well be a red-head, which would have been some compensation, because I definitely fit the stereotype of thin-skinned and hot-tempered!  And furthermore, sunlight doesn’t make me tan.  I either burn or make more freckles…..

My life would be more straightforward and I would waste a lot less time getting my feelings hurt, if I weren’t so sensitive.

So I wonder, what is the good of this ridiculous sensitivity?

Posted August 29, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity

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I think I’m having some kind of withdrawal   Leave a comment

So every year for the past four years, our family has packed up our gear, hooked up the pop-up trailer, and gone on a camping trip.

We really traveled.  We went to the Southwest, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, back to the southwest to see more of Arches and Capitol Reef and to meet Canyonlands for the first time.  Then last year, we went to South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Bighorn Canyon, the Helena area, Hebgen Lake, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

So, yes, we have done a lot of camping and traveling.  It was a good bit of work, but hey…it was fun!

My parents took us camping starting when I was about 9 and my brother was 2, and we moved around a lot because Dad had itchy feet.  So maybe I get this tendency from him.  I also got used to living west of the Mississippi where the air isn’t quite so thick and where you can see for miles.

I’m glad I got to go camping all those times.  I know many people who haven’t had those opportunities.

I have found a down side to it though.

When you’re used to going every year, staying home seems a bit tame.

I had thought maybe we would camp this fall, but after 2013’s epic list of trips (see previous posts), my man declined to take us all out in the pop up again.

However, it was only after he told me about a dream he had that I truly understood how different our responses to these incredible trips had been.

“I had this dream,” he told me.

“In it, the van was attached to the pop-up.  There was also a hitch on the front of the van.”

“Attached to the front of the van was a bicycle…and guess who was riding it?”

“Who?” I asked.

“Me,” he replied.  “I was pulling the entire rig myself using the bicycle, with all of you in the van yelling suggestions out the windows.”

I am pretty sure that, among other things, this might mean we are not going camping this year.


Well, he is correct that we will save time, money, wear on the van, and a whole lot of effort.  I have actually gotten quite a few projects done this year that have been on my list for probably months, if not a couple of years.  And we have gotten to enjoy a normal summer — we’ve been blessed to participate in three graduations, one wedding, one Fourth of July with two different sets of friends, berry picking with friends and family and each other, and a host of other summer delights.

And it’s weird that I want to keep going on these excursions, since I’m not exactly a high-powered high energy person.  I’m nothing like the Testosterone Trio, 3 guys we camped next to at Zion, who were loading up to go rock climbing starting before daylight.  It’s not like I’m getting up at 5 a.m. to go hike 10 miles each day while we’re out.  I’m neither a morning person nor a night owl.  So…..why do I want to go?

I just love being on the move and being in wide open incredible spaces.

I’m glad we took so many pictures of Grand Teton and Yellowstone and Utah.  No description can do these places justice, so I’m not going to try in this post.  I can look at them and remind myself that I was really there.  And blessed to be there.

But when I see the pictures part of me just wants to go back.

Can we leave tomorrow?


Posted August 5, 2014 by swanatbagend in reflections

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I Was Just Kidding (Zucchini Again)   Leave a comment

Our last zucchini hurrah (for this year).

After all those main and side dishes, I remembered one more I like.  I don’t make it often, but if you are willing to make a pie crust, it is worth the effort.  If you have a lot of zucchini and you want a dessert that is not bread, muffins, or bars, this is for you.

Also, this is great for using up those stealth zucchinis that get too big.  Well maybe just one of them.  Or two.

Zucchini “Apple” Pie

4 cups sliced zucchini, cooked until tender crisp

2 T. lemon juice

dash salt

To prepare the zucchini for cooking, peel, cut in quarters lengthwise, seed, and slice crosswise.  They will be sort of apple-shaped.

Then mix in a bowl

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

dash nutmeg

3 T. flour.

After this is mixed, add the zucchini and mix well.  It will be runny, but that’s OK.  Dump the filling into a large pie crust and dot with butter. Add the top crust and bake at 400 forty minutes or until golden brown.

I’d serve this warm with ice cream. See how many people you can fool.

Posted August 4, 2014 by swanatbagend in food

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Just Stopping By   Leave a comment

Last week I decided to take advantage of the time of year and the wonderful cool weather and go pick blackberries.  I wanted enough to make a batch of jam and some blackberry lemonade.  I asked my mother if they wanted to come and she said “not interested.”

But then when she checked with my dad, he changed her mind for her.  And they came out and met us at the berry patch, where we found more than enough berries to collect fourteen pounds amongst the five of us, despite the hard winter here, which killed off a great many canes.

Then when my youngest begged his grandmother to come back to the house with us, she succumbed to his wiles.

After all, it’s only 10 minutes from the berry patch, so why not.

Before they arrived I had time to shower and get cleaned up, and by the time they were done picking and joined us, we were ready for a game, which the boy again suggested and the grandparents agreed to.

Then they said they had better get home.

But it was getting on toward lunch time and I said, “Why not stay for lunch?”

“Oh we don’t want to take your leftovers!”  Mom looked into the fridge and told my father they had better not stay because I didn’t have enough.

What she had missed was that I had already downloaded the contents of the fridge onto the counter.  I assured her that I had enough goodies for everyone…so they stayed a little longer.

They used to live a two days’ drive away.

It is so nice to have them here, where we can meet for berry picking and spend as much time together as we like.

Posted July 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in gratitude

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Increasing Maturity?   Leave a comment

Since I moved here 8 years ago I have noticed that people I meet seem to think I know what I’m doing and that I am not merely a functioning adult, but someone they can assume has parenting experience and will be around to rely on if they need some support.

Now that I’m 47 and have one homeschool graduate to my credit, have done the high school and college admissions thing before, I can understand that view.

What I want to trumpet to the world, about every other day or so, is, “No! I really don’t know what I’m doing!  I have fears and questions, regrets and concerns.  I have challenges each day about which I could use the advice and support of someone older, smarter, and more experienced.”

But it seems like once you reach a certain point, you get so good at what you do, that your wish to be supported fades into the background.

I like talking with other mothers, being a listening ear, and providing support in hard times.  It’s good to have experience and to have made it through difficult situations. That’s a gift which I’ve been given, and I’m glad I can give back.

Still, I have had a difficult time adjusting to the reality that I am now that older, wiser person.

Despite having lived a few years above the age of 40 now, I don’t grasp it. Maybe I don’t want to.  I guess as with any change there is both good and bad, and I do miss feeling like there is someone older and wiser watching out for me.

But I had found myself thinking that I had been forced into this new role without any transitional help. Then I realized the other night after processing for a while that this idea was incorrect.

1. First I had about 20 years being a young woman and being loved on and mentored by a lot of fantastic people, peers and adults. (I’m thinking of Marilyn Howe, Carylion Kennedy, Gina Humphrey, Sandy Bumpus, Anne Dunton, Anni Miller, Kathleen Woolsey,  Beckie Johnson, Lynn Ericson and many more)

2. Then I had about 20 more years of some mentoring and a lot of mutual support in relationships with peers. (Here mentors are Judy Calkin, Doris Musser, Kim Gardner, Chris Jolly)

3. Bringing us to the future, where I have made the transition to being more mentor than mentoree. (Here’s Susan Jackson)

So I realized that this trajectory is not all that unusual.  In fact, I suspect this is how it’s supposed to work.

For whatever reason, this made it easier to comprehend why I am where I am now.

The only thing I’m wondering is, what will the years from 60 to 80 look like?

Should be fun.


Posted July 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity, transitions

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Responsible   1 comment

Last night I experienced some of the joy and wonder that cell phones can provide.

I had left for an arts event at a local nature preserve at 6:15.  We arrived early, my daughter set out her art, we chatted with the organizer and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Then sometime after the program started, with music and people reading from their work, I noticed I had a phone message I had somehow missed.  Probably I missed it because my phone is over 8 years old and “reception” with it is pretty sporadic.

I listened to the message when I could, to find that my youngest child was experiencing distress because he had lost the directions for Lincoln log building which he had been referring to for the past week. I was to call back and give any ideas of where the paper could be.

I checked with the family members I had with me.

No one had touched the piece of paper in question.

I called my son back and made a few suggestions and sympathetic noises, then went back to listening to the program.

Later, we went for a walk on one of the nature trails, back into the woods where all we could hear were a few bugs and the far off sound of music from the event.

There, I got a phone message from my husband, saying my son was still upset, did I know where the directions were, did the other kids know, etc., and to please call him back.  As soon as my phone found a stretch of path with some bars, I stopped, called, and explained that I didn’t know, but sympathized.

Then, as we were heading back to the venue, to get my daughter’s art and pack it up, the phone rang again.  My son, still sobbing, wanted to know when I would be home.  I told him I was on my way.  Every time my phone rang, I was hoping it was to tell me that the instructions had been found….but not so.

When we got home, he was reading a book with his dad, the tears at bay for the moment.  I discreetly ruffled through the papers in the recycle bin, not expecting to find anything.

Then on to the room where the item had disappeared.  I saw a flashlight sitting near the couch, and guessing it had already been used, decided to give it another go and look  under the sofa.  Pressing my head sideways to the hardwood floor, I attempted to shine the light in the fairly narrow slit that is the space under an old sleeper sofa.  And, there in the murky depths…was a piece of wrinkled paper.  Could this be what we all sought?

I got a yard stick and after about a minute of pushing and scratching it around, got the paper within reach of my fingertips.

Success.  What was lost had been found.  My directions and suggestions had not produced the desired results;  my looking did.

I was pleased to have been Mom the Great, Who has Found the Instructions.  It’s always nice to be essential.

Or is it?




Posted July 26, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Next Summer Delight   Leave a comment

That would be blackberries and what you can do with them.

My personal favorite is blackberry lemonade.

This is what you do.  Process 3 cups of freshly picked blackberries through the finest setting of your food processor, to remove seeds and pulp as much as possible.  You can hand-mash them through a sieve if you have to, but I prefer using my hand crank food processor.  A great investment for this reason and homemade apple and cranberry sauces.  Anyway.

In a large glass pitcher, combine one cup sugar, one cup lemon juice, and six cups water.  Stir.

Then add the blackberry juice you just created, stir, and serve over ice.

Once you’ve tried this, you will probably feel as I do, that summer is not complete without a taste of it!

Posted July 25, 2014 by swanatbagend in food

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