Monthly Archives: December 2016

Suck it up, Buttercup

My friend Ellen Carnie tells me all the time to just suck it up and keep on going.  As I toiled all weekend at the office (striking one art show, hanging another, working on billing and trial prep), I thought about Ellen, sucking it up after surgery in her power chair with her sassy attitude.  I haven’t seen her in a month or so but I’m hoping she’ll come to our Holiday Open House because I could use me some Carnie love.  I might have to go to the Honker Springs Farm soon, to walk on the winter fields and sleep under the old quilt surrounded by dolls and children’s toys.

In the morning, I will carry my coffee out onto the deck and watch the sun rise over Ellen’s pasture.  After a while, Ellen will make her way out to the kitchen.  The fragrance of eggs cooking in butter will waft through the air.  Nothing will bother me.  No complaint will rise in my breast.

It’s a peaceful place, is Carnie’s Honker Springs Farm.  I shall take my comfort there, by and by.

It’s the fifth day of the thirty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Morning at the Honker Springs Farm.

All that glitters

As I folded the heavy gold wrapping paper over a gift box yesterday, I thought about the expression “All that glitters is not gold”.  Perhaps old age draws maudlin sentimentality nearer to the surface.  The converse clamors to be heard:  All that’s gold does not glitter.

My friend Jilli gifted me with one of her paintings yesterday.  Her generosity stunned me into silence.  Finally I leaned forward to embrace her.  She whispered to me as we held each other, You are my angel. You’ll never know how much I love you.

As I pressed the heavy gold paper into shape last night, I thought about Jilli’s words.  I’ve struggled to understand the affection that people have for each other.  I can barely comprehend my own.  Jilli and I share certain experiences but our life’s paths meagerly intersect.  We met through Penny Thieme but have developed our own connection.  We once told each other that we would “aspire to have coffee” together, and finally did, three years later.

Jilli’s road spans several nations whereas I’ve never even been to Mexico and just got my first passport.  But we each raised one son, and practically alone — her son’s father died and mine left me.  We each depended on the village to bring our boys to manhood.

She’s an artist with a wild flamboyant personality layered over a complex and deep inner life.  Sometimes when we are together, I feel like the awkward stepsister to her dancing Cinderella.  Jilli draws admirers to her radiance.  For myself, I tend to stand in the corner greeting people as they come for the show.  We’re nothing alike; and yet, somehow, we have this unbreakable bond.

I finished wrapping the presents that I bought this weekend and set them on the buffet.  I’ve already sent a few to Chicago and these will ride along with me when I go.  I’ve others to buy, for people here and in St. Louis.  I love the Christmas season, even though I do not practice a religion which celebrates the day as the birth of a savior.  This year finds me especially tender-hearted.  I tread with care among the party-goers.

As I search for little gifts to give the people whom I love, my own angels, the thought of glittering and gold  lingers.  Perhaps I need to wipe the grime away from some old stone which I had overlooked.  There might be gold beneath the filthy surface.  And though I know that I cannot give as grand as I’ve been given, with each small gift I can offer a piece of my heart.

It’s the fourth day of the thirty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.



Jilli Nel‘s work, “One Day At A Time”, will be on permanent display in the waiting room of Suite 100.  If you’d like to see it for yourself, please come to our HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE, this Friday from 5pm to 8pm.  

Three new artists will be featured in the art space of Suite 100 this Friday at the Holiday Open House:  

Laura Lloyd, Mary Ann Coonrod, and Billy Peters.

The kindness of neighbors

I spent a good ten minutes at the lunch table yesterday grousing about my dentist’s staff although I tried to disguise the complaint as a factual account of their mistakes.  Even as I bent Miranda’s ear, I laughed at myself. I’m not supposed to complain!

So here’s a bookend brag about the kindness of my neighbors.  From Debbie Black who checks on me without fail, to Chris Morgan who has hoisted me from the ground where I’d fallen, to Scott Vaughan who did the same and also raked my leaves this week, I have some of the most extraordinarily generous and thoughtful folks around me.

I came home too tired and late on Thursday to take the trash out.  When I hurried outside yesterday morning hauling the trash, I stopped and gasped at the sight of my bare lawn.  The piles of leaves in which I’ve fallen several times no longer crowded the porch steps.  The bare maple rises above the yard, no more crackling leaves to drop, wearing her frailest winter branches.   The wide expanse of lingering grass beneath the tree awaits the January snow.

Many nights bear down on me with burdens that feel insurmountable.  When I fall in my basement; when I can’t heft the laundry basket down the stairs so the clothes collect for weeks without being washed; when I stand amid the clutter without energy to clean — desolation overwhelms me.

When my son came home for Thanksgiving, he told me that he wanted to help me.  And  help he did:  he cleaned the house, and cooked, and drove me everywhere I wanted to go.  He brought the comfort which my neighbors give me every day, that Scott gave me; that Debbie and Chris give.  The kindness of neighbors.  The knowledge that someone cares.

It’s the third day of the thirty-sixth month of My Year (decade?) Without Complaining.  Life continues.


My neighbors Scott and George, on their wedding day.

 “Best Neighbor Ever” award goes out to Scott today!

This blog’s for you

This blog entry goes out to Isaac from Google Fiber who phoned to do a review of the service call which caused  me to complain the other day.

He agreed that my attempts to get the customer service rep to listen were valiant and in vain.  Then he laughed when I told him about walking around the house admonishing myself not to complain, after the line went dead in the middle of the call.  He actually pulled up both my blog and the website for the Center for Non-Violent Communication, after asking why I was so light-hearted about the situation and learning of my increasingly misnamed Year Without Complaining.

He asked me to tell him about NVC, and went to You-Tube while we talked, to find the Marshall Rosenberg clips which I referenced.  He told me he’d never had such an enjoyable call with a supposedly ill-served customer.  He agreed with me that this could be a teachable moment for the young newbie who had taken my call and failed to solve my problem because he spent so much time trying to find someone to blame for it.

When I hung up, I could hear the smile in his voice. He actually thanked me for taking his call.

This blog entry’s for you, Isaac; for your good-natured willingness to laugh with an old lady about the very simple solution to the technical problem about which she called in the first place.  This blog’s for you, and your dedication to making sure that the focus stays on solving problems rather than placing blame.

I’m still learning that myself.  But your enthusiasm has increased my resolve.

It’s the thirtieth day of the thirty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  I made another convert tonight.  You hear that, Patrick?  We’re testifying.  Life continues.