Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 Random Items

I haven't written in a while, mainly due to the fact that I haven't had a whole blog post worth of an idea to write about, but then tonight, I remembered I had done a random post in the past and really enjoyed it and so here we go again...

Random.

Disjointed..

Thoughts...

#1.  While I love the rain and moisture we have been receiving the past couple of weeks here in Salt Lake City, I need some sunshine and dry weather to complete a project in my front yard.  I am putting in a concrete cobblestone walkway.  I have a great mold from Quikcrete and have asked questions, watched videos and prepared myself for another home improvement project.  I just need clear skies.

#2.  I am learning how to row/crew.  The weather, mentioned above, is also interfering with this as well.  Believe it or not, I row on the Great Salt Lake!!!!  And once you get out of the marina and on to the lake, the lake stink goes away and the views are stunning.  I will be doing a longer post when I finish my lessons and get some pictures.  It is unbelievably fun and a great workout!

#3.  My New Year's Resolutions are going ok.....  I have had some misses, but I am getting better.  One of the resolutions is getting revamped, the approach was WAY more complicated than it needed to be, so I am going to simplify it and let you know....

#4.  I have been rediscovering my Art gene.  As you may recall, I have been taking watercolor classes and now I have been introduced to Art Journaling.  I love the process!  When I get braver, I'll post some of my work on here so you can see it.

#5.  I am still doing my cardio kickboxing on a regular basis.  I still struggle with full pushups, but there has been a slight improvement.

#6.  Go see 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron'.  It is funny, snarky, and a good action film.

#7.  My vegetable garden is finally all in.  Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, kale, carrots, radishes, lettuce, and strawberries are all growing....

#8.  It has been interesting, to me anyway, to see the growth in me on issues that I have faced this year.  I have finally taken book knowledge and turned it into my own personal knowledge.  I have to acknowledge the guides, teachers and events that have led me to this.

#9.  With the end of the tv season, I am not that sad about shows ending.  My tv watch list gets smaller and smaller every year, and I am ok with that.

#10.  I am stopping with 10 things as a tribute to David Letterman's Top Ten Lists......  I loved watching Late Night back in the day....  His wardrobe has dramatically improved over the years.

Well...
I'm off...
Melissa

Friday, April 17, 2015

Beautiful Pollen....

I have had an exceptional hard Spring with allergies....

My voice has sounded like a deranged bullfrog pretty much since Easter, and it has not been pretty.
My sinuses have been clogged and airways have been restricted.

All thanks to the pollen that has been flying around...

My misery and bleary eyes, however, still love the beauty of Spring and all of the blooms and blossoms the pollen brings......

On Thursday afternoon, two days after the snowstorm, my mom and I went down to Thanksgiving Point to see the Tulip Festival.  It was a double bonus event.  My mom volunteers regularly at Red Butte Gardens, here in Salt Lake City, and as a Thank You for Volunteer Appreciation Week, they hosted an afternoon/evening at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, so our admission was free.

I was concerned about my allergies, especially since the wind was blowing.
We were both concerned about the state of the tulips after the windstorm on Monday and the snowstorm on Tuesday.

Our concerns were soon put to rest as we explored the garden, except for a grouping of Lilac trees that sent me sneezing.

Our first grouping of tulips along the walkway
Thanksgiving Point is a Show Garden, of 55 acres, which means as soon as something goes out of bloom, they dig it up and plant something new that will bloom next.  There were over 250,000 tulips in over 100 different varieties planted for the festival, which means as soon as they are done, 250,000 tulip bulbs will be dug up and replaced with another plant.  Can you imagine the work?  Their volunteers are amazing!  Red Butte Gardens, where my mom volunteers, is a conservation garden which means when something goes out of bloom, they just let the plant be and show it as is.  I have a feeling that most of us gardeners do a little of both....show and conservation.

If you live in Utah and have a chance to witness this festival, GO!!!!!!

there were blooms of every shape

and color and texture

and even some still in bud....

They said there were even brown ones.  Do these count as brown?

But all were Beautiful...
This outing also helped me get back on track with my New Year's Resolution of getting my camera out more.  I laid on the ground, got covered in sticks and leaves, and really had fun!

I worked on some photography skills

aperture settings

details

working all in manual to get the detail I wanted.
Thanksgiving Point's Gardens are wonderful to walk through.  A Rose Garden, an Italian Garden, a Monet walk, and even a Secret Garden are all different sections to explore.....

on our way thru....

We even found a girl playing near a stream

the walkway of the arbor in the Rose Garden

the fountains of the Italian garden

Another angle of the Italian Fountains...

lanterns to guide our way
There was even a waterfall area near the amphitheater and a not so patient goose, who I thought was going to attack during its photo session.
one of the 4 waterfalls

I just find running water so soothing...

See the diva like attitude I had to deal with?  :)
As we were just about out of the gardens, the sun started to shine thru the clouds and I got my favorite pictures of the day....
it just set the tulips to glow

This is why I love Spring

Nature just showing off a little bit.

I will put up with a stuffy nose and watery eyes for an experience like that.....
No longer complaining about my allergies,
Melissa








Tuesday, April 7, 2015

1st Quarter Book Report


If you recall and documented here, I am doing a Reading Challenge this year, and in the spirit of documenting and being open with my New Year's Resolutions, and not wanting to overwhelm you at the end of the year, I thought I would split my updates into quarterly reports...

So here is my 1st.

#8 A funny book

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris  

I had never read him before and it will not be the last time.  At times, laugh out loud funny and at times, heartbreakingly sad, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

#11 A book with a one word title

Motherlunge by Kristin Scott

I read this one for my book club, and it snuck up on me how much I ended up enjoying it.  It deals with some pretty serious subjects, yet retains a real sense of humor that isn't fake.

#12 A book of short stories

The Turning by Tim Winton

I can not tell you how much I loved these stories.  Characters reappear in multiple stories in wonderful ways and in the end, all the stories are woven together...  A great recommendation by a friend.

#17  A book a friend recommended

Walking Home, A Poet's Journey by Simon Armitage

Someone recommended this to me, but not who I thought, so if it was you, Thank you....

I enjoyed this adventure of a completely unprepared man attempting a hike the Penine Way in Great Britain.  The ending, however, to this day, DRIVES ME INSANE!!!  I won't spoil it for you, but GRRRRRRRRR!!!

#18  A Pulitzer Prize winning book.

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Read about my adventure here, because I just can't go back.....

#21 A book your mom loves

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This book robbed me of sleep.  I could not inhale it fast enough.  I now love this book about coming of age.

#26 A memoir

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I had no clue what this book was about when I started it in mid February.  A memoir of grief.  I had a hard time with it, because her approach to grief was almost the polar opposite of mine.  I appreciated some of the information and enjoyed her writing style, but ultimately I really did not enjoy it.

#27 A book you can read in a day

The Major's Daughter by JP Francis

An enjoyable read that blends real life and fiction about a part of our U.S. history that I had no clue about.  Did you know that there was a POW camp in New Hampshire during World War II for German soldiers?  I didn't....  

#31 A book with bad reviews

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

I should start off by saying that this book was popular enough that it is now a series and I believe being adapted into a movie.  I, however, will not be continuing or seeing the movie.  It didn't start off so bad, but about half way through the book I just got tired of it.  I got tired of him telling me what Jane Austen really meant to say and of the half hearted attempt to keep it serious.  Embrace the camp if you are going there.  Take a minor character that shows up periodically and when they are not in the book have them off killing zombies--that I would of loved....  This debacle, however, I did not.

#34  A book with a love triangle

Embers by Sandor Marai

Not your traditional love triangle as most of the book is one man's soliloquy on the relationships and the moment that changed everything.  It is so richly written that you savor every word....

#40  A graphic novel

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I didn't get it.  Maybe I'm too old (I really hope not), but hopefully this is just one of those things that does not fall into my wheelhouse.  This challenge is meant to introduce me to styles of books and authors I had never read before and that is how I am approaching this one.  I tried it, and now I can say, "No thank you..."

#43  A book that takes place in your hometown

The FireEaters by David Almond

If you recall, I chose a book from the area I was born in England.  I wrote a review on goodreads that went like this, "Brave yet scared.  Strong yet tender.  Knowing and also a bit confused.  This book summed up a coming of age in a turbulent time. (It is set during the Cuban Missile crisis)"  My only complaint with this book is that it took me almost half the book to get used to the Keely Bay slang, but it would not be as authentic if the author had changed the language, so it is a complaint I can live with.

#44  A book originally written in another language

Night by Elie Wiesel

If you are like I was I and have not read this book, please go find it immediately and read it now.

It is heartbreaking and hard to read at times, not due to poor writing, but the content, but in the end it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.  As soon as I have reading time, I am going to read the entire trilogy.

#46  A book written by an author with your initials

Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell

This novella was written when Margaret was just 18 and you can tell.....  It was not bad, but it did not have her maturity shown in Gone With the Wind.  The accompanying information that was included in the version I read about Ms. Mitchell's life was far more interesting than the actual story.  

#48  A banned book

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This was actually the first book I read in starting this challenge.  It is an interesting read, especially with everything going on with women's reproductive rights going on now.  It will offend some, but I found it a fascinating and well written book.

#49  A book turned into a TV show

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

This has actually been turned into a movie, as well, that I have seen and enjoyed.   And for the first time, I prefer the movie.  I have not seen the TV show, so I can't give an opinion about it.  In the book,  I really did not like a lot of the characters that I found charming in the movie.  It became really weird when some of the dialogue in the movie is a direct quote from the book, yet one of the major plot lines is changed.  I had never read Nick Hornby before and I'm going to read another of his books before I form an opinion about his writing...

As you can see, I am a bit ahead of schedule.  The plan was to read a book a week, and by the end of March, my total should of been 12 and I'm at 16.  I had some weeks that I did not read at all, and others where I would read 3 books on the list.

My next update, at the end of June, is going to be a bit different.  Instead of waiting at the end of the quarter and writing from memory and losing my immediate reaction, I am going to have an unpublished post that I update as I finish a book.  The result of this will be that the numbers will not be in order, I hope it will be ok.....

I hope you've enjoyed a good book lately...
Melissa

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Diving into Procrastination....

I have edited, completely rewritten, and ignored this post long enough....

I started it in late February,
couldn't find the words I wanted, so I left it alone for a while.

I revisited it in early March,
and found I was in a mood to write privately, not here in my blog.

By late March,
I felt like too much time had passed to write it.

On the 5th day of April,
I have decided to just do it......

To write about my Polar Bear Plunge

or

How something that gets all messed up and ends up perfectly.

(Are you listening Melissa?  It doesn't have to be perfect)
Life lesson here....

I was supposed to do the Utah Special Olympic's Polar Plunge at Utah Lake on February 7th, a Saturday.

If you recall, I was in Georgia and it was 2 days after my Dad's death....
Plunging in Utah was not an option.

It dawned on me on that Saturday and I mentioned it to the family that was there, and they said, "Why don't you just jump into the pool here at Dad's house?"  It was unheated and I can verify COLD.

My original plan was to jump in my own clothes, but a better option was given, I would borrow clothes from family.

Standing on the pool deck, when it all seemed like a smart idea...
I dove...why, oh why did I dive?  The deeper I got, the colder it got...
completely submerged...
It wasn't where or how I had intended, but it was perfect.....

It shocked me out of deep grief and onto the road back to myself.....
It reminded me that in my last conversation with my Dad, I had mentioned I was doing a Polar Plunge and he had just laughed and said, "only you...."
It completed a Bucket List item in a very memorable way..
It reminded me of the love and support of family....
And it still raised money for a great cause.

It was not anywhere or how I had planned,
but I'm OK with that.

Life is a goofy, wonderful adventure that has twists and turns that you can never see coming...

I'm learning not only to embrace that, but
CELEBRATE it...

No more procrastination.
Dive in.
Melissa

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Community....

In the past couple of weeks, I have come to realize what an amazing community of people I have in my life.

Some I see regularly,
Others not so much.

Some I talk to a lot,
Others randomly.

In the morning,
In the afternoon,
In the night,
Really all hours of the day....

In Person,
On the phone,
Text Messages,
Facebook,
Emails,
and every other form of communication you can think of.

I just want to say THANK YOU!!!  and I hope that I am there for you too.

I have been asked a question quite a bit lately and I have had a hard time answering it, but you have done it just the same.

"What can I do to help?"

You have held me in your love and support, and that is what I have needed.

Now that grief has lessened its initial grip, I have some things that I would like to suggest.  Some will be hard while others easier, but they are all important to me...

1.  This is a doozy, so I am going to start with this:
     Talk to your parents/spouses/significant others about end of life care.
When my Dad brought up what the subject for the first time, I balked.  I didn't want to talk about it, but he asked me to stay and it ended up being (believe it or not) a beautiful conversation.  Be honest.  Be accepting.  And realize this very important fact, if you talk to 10 people, you will get 10 very different decisions and wishes and they are all OK.   The conversation that I had with my Dad and the ones that he had with everyone else in the family made it so we KNEW what to do and there were no discussions and indecisions about what to do.  It strangely made it easier.....

2.  This is a practical one....
      Airlines have eliminated their Bereavement fares.
I have immediate family in 2 states separated by the majority of the continent.  Death/illness/accidents do not come with a 14 day advance warning.  Airfare purchased the day of is EXPENSIVE!!!!  Set aside some money for airfare if you are like me and have family far from you.  I had started a fund after the October health scare, but did not have near enough.  I was helped out by a friend who works with an airline, and if I did not have that option, family would of helped out.  Don't let financial issues keep you from being there.  I know money is tight, but trust me, family, especially in hard times is worth everything.

3.  Accept your emotions as they come.
    I have ugly cried.
    I have laughed.
    I have felt this is just weird.
    I have ached.
    I have been sentimental.
    I have been numb.
    I have had no appetite.
    I have been oh, so tired.
 
    and it is ok.  I am on the very strange journey of grief.

4.  Accept support when it is offered.
     If you are like me, and fairly independent, this may be a little hard.  People, who love you, just want to help in any way they can.  The support will be from expected and unexpected sources.   Accept that this is a time you are in need.

5.  Please know that I will be there for you....
    One of the greatest gifts of all of this is the firm knowledge that I have AMAZING people in my life who love and support me.  I feel the same about you.


The words that demanded to be put down are gone, so I will end this here.....

Feeling secure in my community,
Melissa

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ramblin' Wreck....

My Dad passed away early in the morning of February 5th.....
The same day, 19 years earlier, as his only sibling, his sister Betty.

He had been transferred from the hospital to a hospice center, as per his requests.
He passed quietly in his sleep, as he wanted, not hooked up to machines and monitors.

I did not believe his death was a possibility until the transfer to the hospice center on Monday, February 2nd.  I believed up until that point that he would recover again.  I knew it would of been a longer and more drawn out recovery, but I believed it would happen.

The issues attacking his body had other plans.

My Dad had very specific and defined views on his end of life care, and while they were hard to listen to when he told me about them a while back, I understood his reasoning and logic behind them.

It made parts of this whole experience, while I can't really say easier, more straightforward.

There were no questions or debates on what to do, we knew the steps that needed to take place....

And in the end, his death set him free.....

His death, however for me, triggered a massive loss of my self confidence.

I became the drama queen, which I am normally not (and DID NOT LIKE BEING)...
A Ramblin' Wreck...

I reached out and made missteps...
I was an open wound over sensitive to everything.
I was beyond quiet and could not seem to be anything else.
I accepted help from someone and by doing so hurt another.

I spent quite a bit of time on my own at my Dad and Ann's house and sat with my emotions.  Whenever I would visit in the past, Ann, his wife, would go to bed early and then Dad and I would stay up a little later and talk.  This time, Ann went to bed as usual, but I didn't have my normal conversations.  It was silent.

I grieved the silence.

I grieved the end of a two way conversation that had been going on for years, since we patched up our differences.

I accepted the past, not wishing it could be different.  Our path got us to where we needed to be and the things we learned and the mistakes we made got us there.

I loved.
A man who was human.
A man who accepted my humanness as well.

I love my Dad.
Death will never change that.

I will miss him.
Time will ease the pain, and leave the love,
but the longing will remain.

As we spent the weekend in Georgia together, we each chose a memento.  There were guns and fishing reels, but since I am neither a hunter or a fisher, they did not seem appropriate or right.

What I ended up feeling what was right, on the surface, probably won't make much sense either, until I explain it...

His Georgia Tech class ring.

I know,  I know.
I am a die hard University of Georgia fan.  (I met UGA, the dog, as a kid and some players and immediately threw my loyalty to the Dawgs.)
Georgia Tech is their instate rival.  My loyalty to the Dawgs always baffled my Dad, but he knew why I loved them and we always had fun on game days with it.

I willingly and openly chose a Tech item.
One that I wore as a kid and into Junior High....

I got a chain for it and wear it around my neck.

The Georgia Tech fight song or maybe school song,  I'm not quite sure which has a line in it that goes as follows...

'He was a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.'

He was also my Dad.....

Charles Harold Murphy
November 11, 1938 -- February 5, 2015

Bye Dad.
Love,
Your Daughter









Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Good with the Bad....

There are certain realities that you have to face when dealing with the impending death of a loved one.....and this post will be about mine.

From the ages of 16 to about 23, my relationship with my Dad was...
difficult,
tumultuous,
hard,
contentious,
and pretty much
non existant.

That is not any easy thing to admit to..
and it does not mean that I did not love him during this time, or that he did not love me.

Although, I think we both forgot that at times...

Hurt occurred on both sides through words and actions.
Invitations were not issued, offers were not made, promises were broken, and time was not spent together.

At our worst, it was like a field of land mines, a small misstep would lead to a large disaster.

Near the end of our troubles, without explaining to him why I was doing what I did, I did not speak to him for nearly 6 months.  I had to break the cycle of our behavior.  Looking back, especially after we talked about it later, I should of told him that was the reason why, but I did not have the tools at the time to do so..  I just needed the hurt to stop......

We, then, started the long, slow and sometimes very awkward process of rebuilding our relationship.  It had some starts and stops, but once we got real about the core issues of what had been going on, it got better.

I'm not going to go into the details, somethings are meant to stay private, but I am telling this because in dealing with his illness and impending death, I have been dragged back into the past by my self consciousness and find myself envious (I know, it's not my finest moment) of those in my Dad's life whose relationships seem (at least to me) simpler and without the drama.

There are things you can wish for...
that are never going to happen.

I can not go back in time and not say the words or feel the emotions that I did,
nor can my Dad, to avoid the time spent apart.

What I am trying to focus on is this....
We rebuilt our relationship, essentially from scratch, to form the bond we have today.  It is stronger than it was, because it is more honest than it was.

I am immensely proud of that fact and I know that he was too.

So that is my bad,
that I accept along with the good....
Melissa