Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mental Duck to Mental Swan

Some time back, my dear friend Sarah was discussing some her life's ups and downs with HER dear friend, and inspiration, Renee, when she suddenly had an epiphany. To which Renee poetically responded, telling Sarah that she had transformed from being a Mental Duck, to a Mental Swan.

Sarah was so struck by those profound words, that she immediately applied her abundant creative talents into making a very beautiful, special award in Renee's honor.

This is not an award to be passed along from friend to friend, or blog to blog, but is a special gift from Sarah.  She bases it on one of two criteria:

1. To Bloggers who encourage and nurture others bloggers to explore and grow in their creative, spiritual or mental lives.

2. To Bloggers who are blooming and growing creatively, spiritually or mentally in their lives & sharing it on their blogs .

This award is all the more poignant because Renee recently lost her valiant fight against cancer. But she remains alive in the hearts of all of us who were touched by her magic wand and her straightforward, but encouraging, and compassionate words.

And so it was that on Sunday, March 28th, Renee's Birthday, that Sarah left me dumbstruck and in tears because she included me in with 13 very talented, very supportive women in her newest list of Mental Duck to Mental Swan awards.

I feel very emotional about this one because I know how much Renee means to Sarah, and how special this award is to both of them, and to be a recipient on Renee's Birthday adds even more meaning to it.

Sarah has achieved what most others can't, leaving me momentarily speechless, and I still can quite wrap my mind around it. I feel humbled, extremely honored, so not deserving, but I'll be darned if I'll give it back!

Two days later, and I still can't find the words I want, to thank you Sarah.
I guess at times like this, instead of stumbling and bumbling around, it is best to say a simple, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart", and hope that you will know to what depths I'm talking about.

Darn. .you made me all misty-eyed again. Where's my kleenex. . .

Wishing everyone a beautiful "Mental Swan Day!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

If I Were. . . . .

Several people have posted this already, and I thought I would give it a whirl.

If I were a month I’d be October

If I were a day I’d be Sunday

If I were a time of day I’d be just before sunrise

If I were a font I'd be Morning Limerick

If I were a planet I'd be Venus

If I were a direction I'd be North

If I were a piece of furniture I’d be an antique armoire

If I were a liquid I'd be ink

If I were a gemstone I'd be an opal

If I were a tree I'd be a Sugar Maple

If I were an element I’d be earth

If I were a tool I’d be a pencil

If I were a flower I'd be a rust colored Mum

If I were an element of weather I'd be thunder

If I were a musical instrument I’d be an oboe 

If I were a color I’d be dark amber

If I were an emotion I’d be happy

If I were a fruit I'd be a strawberry

If I were a sound I’d be rain

If I were a car I’d be a Beetle

If I were a food I’d be ice cream

If I were a place I’d be the shoreline

If I were material I’d be wool

If I were a taste I’d be savory

If I were a scent I’d be musk

If I were a body part I’d be the eye 

If I were a song I'd be Rapsody In Blue by George Gershwin

If I were a bird I'd be a Chickadee

If I were a gift I’d be personal

If I were a city I’d be Paris

If I were a door I'd open into an independent book store

If I were a pair of shoes I'd be tennies

If I were a poem I'd be a sonnet

Give it a try yourself! The answers come easier than you think that they will. In fact for some, I had more than one answer, therein was the difficulty.

Here are some others that have answered the questions as well.

The Fragrant Muse

Moments of Perfect Clarity


So now it is your turn! Let us know you are taking part in your comment so that we can come and read your choices!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Play Mysti For Me, Or What It Is Like To Work With A Diva

Meet Mysti.

Mysti came into our lives 10 years ago, when she started showing up with some other feral cats to be fed. She was just a youngster then, and had not reached puberty yet. But boy, it was close!

After some coaxing (on our behalf), she decided to bestow the honor of being her humans, to us.  Since we had a couple of days before we could get her into her doctor, we kept her separated from our other kitty by keeping her confined in a huge crate. It was a good thing that we brought her in, because it was during that second night, that she went into her first heat, singing loudly to us all night long. The only way she would stop, was if my darling hubs would keep his hand inside the crate, petting her. It was a long night.

We noticed by morning, that her voice was sounding a little like a frog. .wouldn't you after singing all night?  By the time we got her into the vet, she was hardly able to meow or mumble at all.  An examination found a bot fly larve embedded in her neck.  The poor girl came home with two patches of bare skin on the same side, from two operations.  That icky larvae was not only pressing on her vocal cords, but her airway as well, and it may have killed her before it would make its escape. So Mysti was saved just in time, and she's never let us forget it.

She is the only female living with us, and she rules all with her silvery velvet paw.  I think that she has some Norwegian Forest Cat in her bloodline because she has oodles of microfine hair, has their head and body shape, along with the shape of her eyes, and long, long, dense hair between her toes.  She is basically a two person cat (me. .us girls have got to stick together, and my hubs, because he was the hand that petted her when she was distressed). She has long conversations with me during our quiet mornings together before anyone else gets up. Her vocabulary is quite astounding. .she rarely just "meows".

And so it was one morning, that she happened to see my post about the Cheshire Cat and how much I love him. .not good.  She tolerates my affection with our other cats because she knows interprets that down deep in my heart, I love her the best, and SO much, that there isn't room for anyone else. For her to see my declaration in print was a shock for the poor dear. She made a mad dash for her fluffy bed hidden underneath our bed, and stayed there the rest of the day to ponder this development.

The next morning, she approached me, with emotional devastation translated into a hauty demeanor, and a question. .how come I posted HIS photo on both of my blogs, and I've only posted one measly little image of her a long time ago, and that wasn't one of her best?  Realizing that she was gauging the public display as the meter of my affection, my quick counter declaration that try as I might, she never lets me photograph her, except on the run, was completely true, and she knew it.

Shock of shockers, she agreed to pose for photos the next morning! She said that she had to prepare herself. .ok. .I could understand that .it gave me time to figure out a good setting for her.  I don't like using flash on animals unless it is absolutely my last resort, and then I use bounced lighting. .but my son has those, so that was out. . .

In the meantime, Mysti is grooming and purging (she has a lot of fine fur, and I can't do a good enough job to suit her. .she prefers to do it herself), getting each hair to glisten in the barest light, and fruitlessly trying to get them to all lay down in regimented order. 

Face washed, eyes bright with an secretly ingested pinch of catnip to see her through this ordeal, she faces me and asks what's next. 

When she saw the pile of pillows, that was fine with her! She loves nothing better than to burrow and snuggle in.  But her attention span and patience run short. I'm showing these to 1. look for sympathy for all that I went through to try and get a good photo of her, ( I NEVER had this much of a problem photographing other people's pets!) and 2. to get her off my back about not posting any photos of her.

Here is just a sampling: 

First, I get "the look".

And I remind her that this was HER idea, not mine.

So then she gives me a profile. .

Then she thinks that her OTHER side is her best. .

Are you STILL here?

And finally, "Oh all right" take one and let's get it over and done.

Now that she sees her portfolio, she is pondering as to why she doesn't have that bubbly appeal that the Cheshire Cat has.  I knew that I shouldn't. .I just knew it, but couldn't resist pointing out that she needs to learn to smile first.

I hope that everyone else is enjoying their day. I have to take myself to the drugstore to buy some more band-aids. .I knew that we should have had her declawed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Different Kind Of Deer Story

A while back, I shared a photo of me, with a raccoon who had climbed up onto my back while I was out taking photos. This was not an isolated, or unusual occurrence for me.

It seems that when I am out in nature, her creatures have a way of finding me in the most delightful encounters. I normally don't seek them out, wanting them to continue to fear humans, because not all are as friendly as I am, but there is something about me, that they don't fear. Friends have made suppositions as to why this is, and members of my former photo club have offered me payment to go with them when they hunt. Needless to say, I turned them down! I didn't even like to even take them with me when I went out to take photographs. I found that the few times that I did, that no animals would show up at all, and the woods would be unnaturally quiet.

But when I took some of my closest friends, some animals would show up to hang around me, but would often scamper off when my photo buddy would get too close. So it is no suprise that I've had the most, and my rarest moments when I was by myself.  Up in the U.P., I once had a mink run along with me on the shores of the Tahquamenon River, playing around the legs of my tripod, and with my shutter cable while I tried to take photos of some endangered blooms.  I've had porkies and possums come out to say hello, along with skunks, squirrels, chippies, (one kept climbing into my camera bag) wild turkeys and many waterfowl.  I've had owls and hawks land in trees to watch me, and more than once a snake slither out to wrap around my tripod legs then settle in to take a snooze. I had to be extra careful not to step or kneal on them! I don't think that they would have taken too kindly to it!

I've had so many raccoon visits, I've lost count, as I have deer. There are several encounters that do stand out in my memory though, and this is one of them.

I was sorting through a huge box, and found these tucked in there. Fortunately, one of my photo buddies was there to capture it on film. Yes. .film.  These are 20 years old, and have some surface damage to them.
Yes, that is red hair. .my true color. It was Autumn, and I remember that although the sun was warm, the air was chilly, hence the layered clothes that made me look like a marshmallow, and the brighter colors so as to not blend in too well. .gamebird season was on. I usually wore a muted olive green hat, but I thought that red hair was a better beacon!

I resisted touching that deer for so long, but then gave up the fight.

 For one thing, he kept licking my camera, including my lens.  I had to change lenses because a very sticky film formed on the glass that I couldn't remove until I got home. And then he started on me!  Ooooh, how I hated leaving him.  I worried about what was going to happen to him. .he was obviously born later in the year, being that small, and with spots in Autumn. 

I kept hoping that Mom was somewhere nearby, watching him, thinking "Didn't I teach him ANYTHING?"

Although I brought you a touch of Autumn into your life, I hope that you are enjoying a delightful Spring day!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Souper Saturday!

Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor. After giving us temps into the 60's last week, for a teasing unseasonably warm spell, on the first day of Spring, she gives us snow, and a 30 degree drop in temps!

What better way to ride it out than with a good book, and a bowl of warm soup.  I'm reading Laura Child's latest Tea Shop cozy mystery, The Teaberry Strangler (I love the whole series!), and I made a soup pot full of Chicken Pot Pie Soup to warm me up while watching the flakes fall.

Here is the recipe to enjoy with your own favorite book!

2 Tblsp. Olive Oil
2 Leeks, washed, trimmed & chopped*  See below!
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 Celery Stalks, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 Cup Flour
8 Cups Chicken Stock, divided
1 Envelope Chicken Bouillon Powder, low sodium
2 Medium Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb. Small White Button Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
10 Ounces Pearl Onions, peeled
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Corn
1 Cup Frozen Peas
1 Cup Frozen Cut Green Beans
2 Large Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into thin cubes
1 Teasp. Salt
1/2 Teasp. Dried Tarragon
1/2 Teasp. Seasoned Pepper
1 Cup Heavy Cream

3/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Teasp. Baking Powder
1/2 Teasp. Salt
Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tblsp. Butter, chilled
1 Large Egg
3 Tblsp. Milk
1 Tblsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks, onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook for about 7 minutes or until just soft.  Stir in flour; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to brown the flour.

Remove from heat and gradually stir in 6 cups chicken stock, and chicken bouillon powder.  Add carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, pearl onions, corn, peas, green beans, chicken, salt, tarragon and pepper.

Return stockpot to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until veggies and chicken are tender.

Meanwhile, in a shallow saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of water to a boil.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. 

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk and parsley; stir into flour mixture until a soft dough forms.

Using a greased spoon, gently place rounded teaspoons of dough into simmering broth.  Cook for about 7 minutes or until well-risen and cooked through.

Stir heavy cream into chicken soup, and adjust thickness of soup by adding remaining cooking liquid from the dumplings.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.  Add cooked dumplings to soup and return to almost boiling, over medium heat. Serve immediately.

Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley over soup bowls.


* Leeks should always be thorougly rinsed between the layers to remove all of the sand and grit that is trapped there when the plant grows.  See all of the darkness in this cross section?  That is sand! 

After cutting off the tops, I usually slice them lengthwise, and separate the layers just enough under running water to clean them, then the layers all fan nicely back into place, so that I can lay the flat side on my cutting board, and slice them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Magical Holiday Artists Give Away!

The artist group, Magical Holiday Artists, are having a Springtime Give-Away, with not one, but two baskets stuffed full of One Of A Kind Creations from some of the very talented people in the group!

Click on the above link to sign up for the drawing!

Good Luck!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Cheshire Cat; A Quick Critique

Without giving anything in the story away, this is one of my favorite moments in the movie. .actually what happens right before this scene. My hubby missed the visual clue, so maybe we'll have to see it again! lol

I realized when I saw the previews and the stills, that I was going to be looking at the movie more in a creative mode than following the story. 

And in that sense, I wasn't disappointed. I loved all of the detailing in the character's costumes, the sets and the special effects. 

The 3D is more subtly used than in Avatar,where you went on soaring rides on the backs of winged dragons.  But it is still affective, especially with the Caterpillar's smoke and the disappearing Cheshire Cat. (And Alan Rickman's voice is perfect for the caterpillar!)

It isn't as "dark" as Tim Burton's other movies have been, but is lightly fanciful. Maybe because they are playing to younger kids.

Spoiler Alert ~ Next Paragraph Only 

The Queen of Hearts isn't as nasty as some of Disney's other wicked queens have been, although there is a moat scene with hints of her victims of her famous "off with their heads" that is a little "Ick!!" but even that isn't scary. .just gross to think about. And some viewers may not even get the connection.

I think that the stories of Alice are so packed with details and intricacies, that it is hard to put it all into one movie and have it all make sense.  There are a few loose ends. .or I should say beginnings, if you aren't already familiar with the original stories. But those are minor side issues. If you go with the flow of the main story, it is self contained. It moves along at a steady pace, although at times, it seems like there isn't much going on, that it is more like filling space. But then it isn't stressful with an abundance of continuous high action scenes either. Again, maybe because this isn't aimed for just adults.

SPOILER ALERT~ Next Paragraph Only

The only true violent part is when the Jabberwock meets his demise, but it isn't overly long or suspenseful, and is predictable. He is just scary enough to not be a misunderstood dragon, but not so overwhelming as to send children running up the aisles screaming, either. (unless you have a sensitive, impressionable child, like I was. .but I can think of several Disney wicked characters that are still scarier than this Jabberwock)

Sooo, if you are anticipating another completely quirky, dark Tim Burton movie, you may be a tad disappointed, but if you going with the intention of seeing the fantasy of Alice and her Wonderland, along with all of the colorful, fanciful characters, then you will enjoy the journey!

Please let me know what you liked, or disliked about it!

I'm In Love

We went to see "Alice" in 3D on Wednesday, and it did not disappoint me. Johnny Depp was fantastic as usual, and each character is full of charm. But one made me want to gather him up and bring him home!

How could anyone resist those gorgeous eyes and that grin! He makes you smile, just looking at him!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Malls Rule! No Wait. .That's Mall Rules; Signs Of The Times

A few days ago, I posted a sign that has gone up at a nearby mall, and asked for your thoughts.

Amazingly, I agreed with all of you, but before responding myself, I wanted to do a little research.  So between DSL line problems, and life in general, I was able to find out that this is a growing trend across the country, primarily in smaller malls, and that these rules surprisingly aren't some of the strictest.

Take a look at these!

I understand the health issues involved. The "no shirt, no shoes, no service" has been around for what seems like forever. Living in a resort area, with dozens of beaches, this is a long and re-occuring problem, along with the swimsuit issue, for the businesses in this area.

You may not want to sit on a chair that has been previously occupied by someone with a "plumber's crack", but what about someone that has a string bikini bottom, on? Not such a pleasant thought either, is it? The droopy drawers actually have more coverage.

And I chuckle at the "no shoes" portion, because with the increased popularity of flip-flops, and sandals that have cardboard thin soles, that line is only as fine as that foam or piece of leather. And I've seen teens with some pretty questionably hygenic feet, propping said digits up on those same chairs in mall food courts.

And let's not rule out those toddlers that sit in those chairs with leaky diapers, or on the other end of the spectrum, seniors with bladder control problems. You think I jest, but as the population is getting older, this is a fact, and can be a problem.

So for those of us who want our properly jean clad tooshies to sit on a clean seat, there are those handy dandy individual germ killing wipes that are becoming a staple in most women's purses. We use them on shopping cart handles, door handles and toilet seats. We might as well use them on restaurant chairs and booths too.

I chuckle when I see kids walking around with super size shoes, untied or unlaced, jeans gathered around the hightops, and a belt around the vacinity of their knees. I wonder how on earth they can even walk. But that is their problem, not mine. And the extremes that kid will go through, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, to fit in. (says someone who used to stuff herself into a body shaper back when she didn't really need one).

I know that jackets, and baseball caps of certain colors designate gangs, and that caps worn at an angle can signify gang membership, or is looking for a challenge, but not only has this generation figured out ways of being "anti-establishment", since rules were set up eons ago about not wearing leather jackets with gang emblems blazing, but there are a lot more kids that aren't gang members, emulating what they think is "cool" or "bad", or whatever the current word is that means the same thing.

And this is what concerns me about these mall rules. Yes, they are all private properties, and can set up whatever rules they desire. But when you start setting up not guidelines, but rules beyond the health issues where food is concerned (malls have food courts), they are stepping off the sandbar, and will soon be in over their heads.

I recently saw a sign at a bank that asked everyone to remove their hats and sunglasses when they entered the bank, for everyone's safety. Now that, I can understand.

But to not wear hoods in the mall? I know. .there are jewelry stores in the malls.  Robbers have been wearing hoods ever since they were tacked onto sweatshirts, along with masked stocking caps and panty hose smashed down over their faces. This is nothing new. So why wait until it is a fad among a lot of teens, to smack down the rule. .no hoods.  And what happens when I have a bad hair day, and decide to wear my new terry hoodie when I'm going to Jo-Ann's to pick up some paint brushes. .technically, I can't go into the mall, and if I do, and they make an exception because I'm not the profile that they are focusing on, then they are discriminating. Plain and simple.

And I had to laugh when I read their wording of all skirts must be up around the waist at all times. .I can remember when conscientious parents were telling their daughters to keep their skirts Down! The mall managers might want to rethink that part. It might be taken too literally by p*ssed off teens.

Which leads me to my final point. Ironically, this local mall is nearly empty of stores. Being in Michigan, the economy has really taken a hit, combined with chains that open smaller versions of their full merchandise stores, with the larger selection, in huge multiple malls a little over an hour away, in two opposite directions, sets up a formula for failure. The only people that shop at the local mall are there when they need something in a pinch, and don't have time to drive that far.  And in my neighboring town, there is still a thriving downtown of individually owned shops for those special gifts or artsy things for yourself, which diverts even more general mall traffic away.

The majority of the stores that are left open at the mall, cater to the kids that they are trying to curtail, selling the merchandise that is banned. So far, there hadn't be any trouble. They were doing this as a preventative, following other small mall's trends. (the manager probably went to some seminar). But knowing the rebellious teen hormones that are in hypermode, this is an invitation for trouble.  One mall security person who is a little too power crazy is all that it will take.

The strange thing is too, like I already mentioned, it is the small malls that are posting all of these restrictions. What are the larger ones doing? Besides the standard food safety regulations, and some like not wearing shirts with racial slurs, or get this. .bullet proof vests! (never thought of THAT one!) they are posting a major, but simple one. All teens must be accompanied by a parent. Period.  In what I read, since the Mall of America, and other large shopping meccas have made this rule, not only aren't they having fewer complaints about personal expression of dress, but robberies are down, shop lifting is down, and there isn't any gang activity.

So why can't the small, nearly empty mall make that one simple rule instead of all of the ones that are so easily challenged?  Is this truly to establish a benign shopping atmosphere, or more of an attempt by small town conservative adults to curtail the harmless expression of identity from their youth, simply because they don't like the way that they look?

Knowing and growing up in this area, I fear that this is going to be a long, hot summer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bouquets of Sunshine!

This bright and beautiful Sunshine Award has been showered on not only this blog, but my other ones as well.

I think that all of the gorgeous blooms are all melting the snow with their warmth and delightful spirit!

Becca, over at MagikalSeasons graciously bestowed this upon me here, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

I'm supposed to list 12 people to share this with, but you all continue to inspire and cheer me every day. Even if you don't leave comments on my blog, and I may not have time to, on yours either, but that doesn't mean that I'm not reading what you have to share.  And through your words, my day is changed for the better.

So please, copy and paste this beautiful award on your blog too, and wear it with pride! You deserve it!

Thank you again, Becca! You made my day extra special!!!

Time For Your Opinion, Please

These signs were recently posted at our small local mall.  I'd like to know your personal opinion on whether they are going to far in restricting self expression, or if you think that this is a necessary step.  I'll share my thoughts tomorrow.

Thank you, and have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You MUST See!

I just closed my last post and scrolled down to read some other blogs. When I saw what William Bezek had just posted, my jaw dropped. You HAVE to see his Mad Hatter. You will be momentarily speechless too.

Who Is Counting The Days?

Is anyone else excited about the new Alice opening on Friday? Has anyone bought their tickets yet? 

We won't be battling the first weekend crowds, but will go to a matinee during the week. One of the perks of retirement!  But I can hardly wait!!

We saw more extensive previews when we saw Avatar in 3D, and the Cheshire Cat just hangs out there all by himself in midair, before he slowly fades away. Totally awesome!!  We may have to see it more than once so I can absorb all of the scenery, costumes & props. I love all of the detailing! lol

Please let me know if you are planning on seeing it, and then what you think of it when you do go. It looks like a lot of fun!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Sign From The Other Side

Because my blogs are a diversion for me, I try and stay away from things of a more serious nature, but I think that the time has come for me to share a very personal, but meaningful experience that happened not only to me, but my family.

It seems that lately, so many people that I know are having to say painful goodbyes to loved ones that are leaving this life, this earth, and if my true story brings some measure of comfort to them, then it is worth this shift in focus.

And it doesn’t matter what spiritual or religious path you follow. My family is quite diverse in that area, and we were all there to see this with our own eyes. Just please keep an open mind, and an open heart.

My Step Dad Travelled On in 1999, as a result of exposure to Freon gas, an unknown hazard at the time, but an integral part of his refrigeration business. But to get the true meaning of my story, we need delve just a little into his history, back to 1964 when he became an important part of our family, back before he became the beloved Grampa to my children.

He married my Mom in June of that year, and that following November, he started gathering up his gear, announcing that he is going deer hunting! I, who grew up with a Dad who never hunted, and loved animals, was appalled! How could my Mom have married a hunter!!?

But that year, and every year after that, when November rolled around, he would head for the North woods, but never came home with a deer, only gifts for everyone from the local crafts shops. It got to be a running joke that he had to remember to take his gun, just to keep up his image. If the truth be known, yes, he loved going up to Munising, in the U.P. to visit with some friends who lived there, swap stories at the local pub, and sit out in the woods, being a part of nature. He thought that deer were one of the most beautiful creatures. Why he had to go through the fa├žade of being the hunter, I don’t know. I’m guessing it was because it was the way that he was raised, but he never said.

Back here at home, their home edged on woods that banked a river, with tall grassy fields extending past their mowed garden area, so deer were a familiar sight moving in the shadowy perimeter of their patio and glass enclosed porches.

He loved nothing better on quiet summer evenings, to sit out and watch and count the number of deer grazing their fields, or lazily making their way down to the river bank. Like all of us deer watchers do, he could recognize and point out the regulars, and looked forward to seeing the fawns each year.

Sometime during those years, they decided that their home was too big for the two of them, so they sold it, keeping the tall grass fields that were dotted with apple and oak trees. They built a smaller home; still keeping some land that went down to the river. Deer would sometimes meander through, looking for acorns or fallen apples, but they became more of a treat to see, rather than familiar friends, when for various reasons, my folks started having the remaining trees removed, and the extended fields mowed. My Mom didn’t like having to rake all of the leaves, the acorns messed up her patio, and she didn’t like the apples rotting in her yard. So sadly, the trees disappeared, and so did the deer. My parents were left with a sterile, completely mowed surface that turned brown under the hot summer sun. Not an inviting habitat for wildlife.

I know that my Dad missed having the deer around, but contented himself with his yearly trip up North, and then, after we bought a home up in the upper tier of the Lower Peninsula, coming to our home.

We had a mechanical feeder that sprayed corn out in a wide radius, and we had a healthy deer herd that came to feed every night. During the day, they would bed down in the shade of our house, or under the many trees.

My Dad would sit out in a lawn chair, with the biggest grin on his face as he watched the deer come down our long curving drive through the pines, walking right toward him, only veering off to go eat. In the few years of his illness, he sat with his portable oxygen tank at his side, still able to be out with the deer.

But toward the end, even that became too much for him to do, and he remained at their home, where on a hot July day, he slipped into a coma, and within a few hours, took his final labored breath.

My Mom, who had been his sole caregiver, and preparing herself for this moment, was suddenly shaken with this huge concern that he was in a good place. She was to the point of being frantic, with not knowing.

The next morning, after a very sleepless night, I sat her down, and told her that I knew that she was going to get a sign, but that she had to be aware of it, so that she would recognize it for what it was. I wasn’t telling her that, to make her feel good. I really did feel it. But she was so distraught, I had to keep reminding her.

Just as the afternoon had settled into another hot and steamy afternoon, with the sun shining it’s brightest, all of the immediate family had gathered in the family room once again to discuss the plans for a memorial. Adjacent to the three walled glass enclosed porch, we were able to look out over the huge expanse of open lawn.

I had my head down, composing my Dad's obituary when my son said, “Mom! Look out the window!”, and of course, 10 pairs of eyes turned toward the bank of windows. There, standing in the bright afternoon glare of the sun, stood a solitary deer, early antlers wrapped in velvet. He not only stood in the open yard, but calmly walked up to the porch windows and stopped, looking in. While everyone else was oohing and aaahing over the sight of a deer in this stark surrounding, I quietly came up behind my Mom and whispered to her that there was her sign.

I could feel the tension and stress whoosh out of her, as she quietly made her way across the room, and up to the window. She stood there, reaching her hand out toward the window pane, with the deer’s nose only inches away on the other side of the glass. The buck didn’t run, but stood there, looking at my Mom. What transpired between them, I don't know. It was a very personal moment. He was there for her, with us as witnesses. Then, with a bow of his head, he slowly turned, and ambled across the huge expanse of open lawn, heading back into the distant tree line. Once there, he turned to look back, then disappeared into the trees.

Then with a collective exhaling of held breaths, all of the chattering inside started. My grandkids were excited to see a deer! My kids were talking about how strange it was that one showed up in the middle of the day, when none had been around for years. My hubby and I looked at each other with knowing smiles, and my Mom looked at me with tears in her eyes, saying that a huge weight had been lifted from the middle of her chest.

My older daughter sadly thought that her Grammie had lost any threads of rational thought, fearing that she thought that the deer was Grampa. I told her “No, it is the miracle of the deer showing up now”, but personally, I keep an open mind because I don’t know for sure. If it is possible, that is definitely the form he would take. But what I do truly feel, is that the deer was a Messenger, especially considering in all of the years since, no deer has shown up in my Mom’s yard. Believe me, she has looked, and hoped.

I remind her to be thankful for that very special gift that she received, and she is. She also admits that if she were alone, she probably would have missed the significance of it until maybe a long time later, which would have made her feel even worse. So the timing was key, as was the awareness to look for it.

We may have received a special gift, but I know that we weren’t special in being gifted. In talking with others, some have their own stories of the Veil being lifted. I think that it happens more often than we are aware, and we should keep our senses finely tuned, so as to not miss that true magical moment.

Do you have an experience of receiving a sign from the Other Side? I would love to hear your story. Thank you for reading mine.

Wishing everyone a beautiful day!