Extraordinary Evenings

Every day that ends with a sense of contentment is a good day whether I accomplish anything or not. Sunsets seem to affirm that. (We’re here to witness, share, and be, folks — not just “do”.) I grew up ingrained with a “doing” mindset and my self-worth was often measured by how much I got done. It’s taken me decades to get past that primordial training. Last year I put my life on hold to take care of my family, and as a result, I put The Man Of Few Words (“our” life… my life?) on hold for over six months, took an unpaid leave of absence from my job, and contended with limited cell phone signal,  almost no internet (save for my son’s tablet), and a Minnesota winter.

I was a mess when I got home.

It’s taken almost a year to regain my sense of “self”, feel the slightest modicum of creativity, and forge ahead with “my” life — or at least what I formerly envisioned it to be — while handling ongoing phone calls, daily crises, paperwork, and myriad “to-do’s” once I got home. Old habits die hard and fatigue can play funny tricks on your brain — not to mention sap your strength and leave you feeling hopeless.

Yet, I don’t.

Every day back at the lake is a stellar day… followed by an extraordinary evening. (Even when I don’t do a gosh darn thing!) Sometimes I just need to absorb it all. Contentment reigns.

During your tenure on the planet you’ll oft be presented with challenges you don’t feel qualified to face. “Buck up, buttercup” and face ’em anyway! There’s a lesson to be learned and life goes on. Things will gradually become sharper and clearer, even if you’ve had to put you (and/or your “envisioned” life on hold for unprecedented/unanticipated lengthy stretches and you question every decision.) Eventually, it will all make sense, Or, as TMOFW has oft encouraged me (while I wondered aloud about my sanity and ability): “When God wants you to be doing something else, He’ll let you know.” In the meantime, it’s segueing gently between my obligations and my dreams… being aware… and taking care of myself. (Even if it’s just looking at a sunset.)

As if to say “amen” to that thought, my poetic friend j.i. kleinberg recently published this poem entitled The Evening.

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ The Evening

After “all of the above”, this is how my life has been lately… halfway between my dreams and reality… with a lot of “blue” up for consideration.

Enjoying re-configuring life at the lake,

~ Kim

Rhapsody In Blue VIII

There are two kinds of fishermen on the lake. (Three, counting vicarious photographers.) Not only do we rely on serendipity, we thrive on hope. Here’s to the souls anticipating the “catch of the day” by whatever means.

A few years back, I’d climb down the thirty-foot drop to shore over uneven rocks and toss in my “hook, line, and sinker”. These days I have to be cautious about my balance — particularly my inner balance. While I may not be able to do what I “used to”, it doesn’t deter me from having fun.

Life is a series of compromises.

Figuring out the best one for you — sometimes daily — requires a knack similar to fishing, a small dose of humility, a huge dose of gratitude, and a heapin’ helpin’ of self-awareness and self-acceptance. For now, “watching” suits me just fine.

South side

Ever had to give up an integral part of yourself (temporarily or permanently) to deal with “life”? How did you cope? Did you have fun? Do tell.

Enjoying uncompromising pleasure,

~ Kim

Gently Reclaiming My Turf

dawn

This past week I went on my first walkabout in over two years (unmitigated life-events notwithstanding) with a sincere desire to reconnect with “my” landscape.

Dawn was ushered in by a pastel sunrise and I couldn’t resist exploring.

Viewing the lake from afar is lovely, but up close and personal restores my soul.

geese

Ma and Pa Goose escorted me the first fifty yards, honking furiously and strutting indignantly. (Must be a nest nearby.) After spontaneous flight the shore was mine.

This time of year the lake is the least colorful and most hopeful — a wait’n’see kind of attitude that initially appears unimpressive cloaked in muted tan, brown, and gray — but, there’s SO much more to see once you get past your first impression.

Shapes. Shadows. Surfaces.

Treasures lurk beneath!

So far I haven’t stumbled upon anything of value yet (nor the hundreds of lures TMOFW and I have “donated” to the lake over the years), but this was priceless.

Beauty and serenity — not to mention self-worth — are in the eye of the beholder. I hope you recognize yours, xo.

peaceful-shoreline

Transient residents are welcome, too, to tell the story of the ever-shifting shoreline tempered by wind, water, and time — a continuous Do Over.

We ought to learn something from that. (Every day’s an adventure!)

Nothing stays the same, but we can bear with it gracefully… even scenically.

sea-serpent

This driftwood castaway reminded me of a sea serpent. (Maybe Lake Eufaula has a Nessie?) Wouldn’t that be something.

Raccoon tracks (among others), shed feathers, and a barnacle-laden rock or two are but a few of the many reminders that this is a shared space… a sacred place.

We respect each other’s right to partake of the the lake. Yay for my turn!

It felt good to wander again… gently.

Enjoying Oklahoma,

~ Kim

Happy New Year

sunset2

Happy New Year! (a few days early…)

Hoping your holidays were merry.

Sending you a lil’ sunset love from the lake, xo.

sunset1

Would love to expound, but I’m recovering from nerve compression in my neck. (In laymen’s terms: OUCH!)

No piano, minimal computer. Will catch up with you soon.

Wishing you a glorious New Year!

Enjoying anticipating 2017,

~ Kim

Autumn at the Lake

Autumn 9

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a “walk about” (mostly due to torrential rains, flooding, and snakes earlier this year) but it was such a gorgeous, crisp Autumn morning I needed to be out in it.

With camera in tow, I trekked down the driveway to gaze at the water…

Followed by a glance up “the hill.”

Autumn 1

Ahhhh…

Touches of Autumn are becoming more apparent — that tree literally changed color overnight! A blessing and a marvel.

Then it was off to the end of the lane.

Autumn 2

I love trees that tell stories. This one is a stalwart soul reigning over a tangle of untamed wilderness (which is one of the reasons I love Oklahoma so much… it’s still “unsettled.”) The local king of the jungle, so to speak.

Every year our trees surprise, delight, and inspire me with their stories in progress.

I hope to add my own one day.

Autumn 3

Walking was slightly “crunchy” underfoot so I stopped to admire the acorns.

A veritable feast for the squirrels!

Then I ambled through the neighbor’s yard on my way back to the lake and discovered this rustic scene.

Autumn 4

And this…

Autumn 5

Elements of play surround me.

(I love that!)

Near the shoreline, other trees shared their stories about “life in progress.” There’s no competition or hurry to keep up here. You simply go (or grow) — or change — at your own pace. It’s all good.

Autumn 6

And after that…

It was time for a closer look.

Or two.

Autumn 8

 

Autumn 10

I feel SO close to heaven when I’m wandering about God’s creation.

Closer to Oklahoma.

Closer to “me” — and you.

Autumn at the Lake

 

Enjoying sharing Autumn at the lake,

~ Kim

Cardinal Rule


Cardinal Rule

Cardinal Rule: “Of foremost importance; paramount.” (The Free Dictionary) “Central or essential.” (Vocabulary.com) “A substantial rule that is in place for a situation or organization… and it must not be broken at any time.” (Urban Dictionary)   “A fundamental rule upon which others hinge.” (Wiktionary)

Do you have a cardinal rule? (Do tell.)

Mine is: “Look for beauty, then share it.” (Even if it’s found in the ruins of your front yard — never mind that it resembles an archaeological dig at this point.) I’ve been known to “grid” a plot or two in search of hidden treasure…

Archaeological Dig I

Despite recent torrential rains, thunderstorms, fog, drizzle, and mist, I try to make a lil’ progress every day in my quest for undiscovered beauty, because “seeing” requires conscious effort and clean-up doesn’t have to be “work.” (Plus it’s more fun that way!)

My cardinal rule (re-stated) is: Share the wonder! Everything meaningful hinges on that.

Take a look-see…

Once rigid dishes and glassware were tempered and transformed into softer versions of themselves — like Moi. Life. People.

Be appreciative of all of them — especially YOU — you’re an artwork in the making! Gentleness is often shaped by the harshest of circumstances, and beauty is often staring you in the face… so LOOK! (Especially at your yourself.) You might be surprised by what you discover!

Be kinder and gentler. Loving. Soft…

A Softer Perspective

Enjoying unexpected art in the aftermath,

~ Kim

Still Waters Run Deep

Still Waters

Sometimes this space doesn’t accurately reflect the amount (or variety) of “writing, music, and photography” I actually do. (Or my love for long sentences…) My clipboard, college-ruled notebook paper, and favorite pen are constant companions — not to mention my camera — along with a stash of notebooks dedicated to ideas, to-do lists, poetry, musings, letter-writing, scribbling, and attempts at journaling. (My piano is also mere steps away.) Not so coincidentally, the aforementioned notebooks are color-coordinated and/or have hand-picked covers to match my wordy moods… writers are entitled to their quirks.

Currently I’m editing an amazing cookbook (more on that in a future post); last week I jammed with my fiddle-playin’ buddy, Joe, twice (we’re also playing for a cancer fund-raiser this weekend); and I was recently humbled and honored to have one of my photos published in an esteemed international literary journal. There’s often more going on in my life than meets the eye — or blog — and I apologize for my frequent lapses.

One of my ongoing writing projects — my “Dear Friends” letters — began over a decade ago. I was employed as a church secretary and each week I’d mail copies of Sunday’s sermon to ten or twelve elderly ‘shut-ins’ or folks who couldn’t attend church. (I’d also include a handwritten note of encouragement, but a sentence or two quickly became a paragraph or two, and finally a page — or two.)

When my tenure was done, I couldn’t help but keep writing to my Dear Friends (some of them tell me it’s the only letter they receive) and through the years my ‘list’ has grown from the original dozen to over 50 folks around the U.S. — often at the request of loved ones: “Mother so enjoys your letters… would you please keep sending them… and could you send one to my Aunt?”

What began as a simple act of kindness through ‘writing’ evolved into a passion for keeping the art of correspondence alive and well.

I used to write my Dear Friends letters by hand (back when I only wrote 10 or 12), but due to the increased volume I finally had to resort to a computerized version — which turned out to be easier for everybody over age 70 to read — my penmanship is nearly microscopic. Did you know it’s easier for the aging eye to discern Sans Serif fonts than Times New Roman? (I do my research.) That aside, I still insist on addressing every envelope by hand and signing each letter personally… and, I often include a handwritten note of encouragement.

Frequency-wise, my letter writing has slowed down a lil’ since moving to the lake, not counting the ones I regularly pen to my family (gotta have ‘deck time,’ not that I need an excuse!) — it’s just that I don’t have as much to write about as I did during the “trucking years.” What used to be an every-other-week travelogue gradually reduced itself to a life-on-the-lake update once a month — then every other month — and now four or five times a year.

Rather than regale you with further ‘hows’ and whys, here’s a (slightly revised) version of the latest edition:

Canoe 2

“God blesses us with His presence in so many ways, from the tiniest miraculous garden sprout to a sky-full of majestic panorama…”

In between, it’s the ordinary moments that bless us: simple things like food on the table, a roof over our heads, a better-than-usual cup of coffee, and the comforts of home. Day to day ‘ordinary’ gives us a deeper appreciation for the extraordinary.

This past Fourth of July, Russ and I opted to stay ‘home for the holidays.’ (Our usual modus operandi involves packing up the Jeep with a week’s worth of clothing and food, driving 24 hours up & back, and shuttling between our families in southern Minnesota.) This year our plan — or rather God’s plan — was to stay put! After the years we spent over-the-road (a transient ‘home’ at best), it was glorious to wake up in our own bed.

Ironically, we both woke up at 3:30 a.m. — don’t ask me why. But, it wasn’t too far off from our usual 4:30 a.m. start to the day, and the coffee and companionship made up for our lack of sleep. Of course, we were missing our families! Sometimes you have to make ‘the hard decision,’ but we knew in our hearts God meant this one just for ‘us.’

Once the sun got up over the hill, it became apparent that it was an ideal morning for canoeing. Earlier this year we’d acquired an ol’ ancient canoe full of dents and patches (still seaworthy in spite of its forlorn appearance) and this was the first time we’d ever taken it out on the lake together. It didn’t take long for us to resume our mutual cadence — Russ at the stern, me at the bow — slicing our oars through the water as though we’d been canoeing every day, instead of for the first time in almost a decade.

We paddled about two-thirds of the way across the lake, then let a light breeze turn the canoe so it drifted slowly back toward the bluff, and Russ spent the entire time casting and ‘trolling’ (of sorts) while I alternately closed my eyes and basked in the sun or scanned the scenic shoreline. (“Don’t ask me why” #2 — I didn’t get my fishing license this year, so I didn’t have my pole along.) Somehow I suspect we might have fared better fish-wise with two hooks in the water instead of one, yet I was content to observe — and he caught a keeper.

Russ has such a natural grace about him when he’s fishing. The way he holds his fishing rod and the rhythmic way he reels in or ‘jigs’ borders on art! I derived more satisfaction out of watching him ‘at work’ than if I’d been handling a pole myself. (My attempts at fishing usually involve hooking every ‘snag,’ tipping over the tackle box, and spending more time with my hook out of the water than in to replace lost lures…)

After we reached the ‘driftwood trees’ in front of the bluff, we paddled between those massive petrified ‘ghosts of a forest’ from days gone by. Their weathered trunks and branches are much larger than they appear from our deck and I enjoyed getting ‘up close and personal’ with them. They must have hundreds of stories to tell — in fact, they do! Dozens of fishing line remnants dangle from their gnarled, silver-gray grip where anglers have lost their lures. (Made me smile; at least “I’m not the only one.”)

An added bonus was seeing the Great Blue Herons perched on random stumps. Slipping by in the canoe with no motor to startle them, we got close enough to see just how large those majestic birds truly are. Numerous cranes also glided back and forth to wherever a beak-sized breakfast could be found as their white wings blazed in the sun against a backdrop of aquamarine lake and azure sky.

Not quite ready to go in, we paddled westward along the rugged shoreline. The wind picked up a bit (not enough to swamp the canoe) so we paddled to the next bay and back — about an hour ‘by water.’ Just then, a bald eagle suddenly took flight, soaring above the treetops in singular, spectacular glory. Moments like those make your senses come alive… seeing that regal bird leading the way overhead, feeling the steady strokes of our paddles, hearing the rippling water caressing the canoe. It wasn’t just a blessing, it was a hug from God!

Our other senses were blessed, too — following this adventure, I grilled some mighty-good-smelling burgers and topped ’em with tomatoes right out of the garden. (You just can’t beat that ‘fresh tomato taste’ on a sizzling burger!) It was a wonderful holiday for both of us.

Sometimes I think Jeremiah 29:11 has become ‘popular’ because of the “implied” blessings in the NIV translation (no disrespect intended) and our inflated expectations of what they might be. Per the King James version (vs. 11-13), there’s more involved than God simply doling out His goodness and grace. He does intend to bless us, and He will — when we seek Him with all our heart.

I’ve come to believe that God’s greatest blessings are His peace and presence. They turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

Enjoying doing what I do,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch